The future vs the past of the Waterfront

Bill Freeman
On Thursday, May 28, the Toronto Society of Architects held a public meeting on the Island Airport. It was a clash between the forces of the future, expressed by Ken Greenberg, architect and planner, and the past, advocated by Robert Deluce, CEO of Porter Airlines.
These are some lines from Ken Greenberg’s presentation that I recorded.
“The Waterfront is Toronto’s opportunity to become a great city. Why would we do anything to compromise all this.”
“There are two major issues that will shape the Toronto of the future: the Island Airport and the Gardiner. Both of them are on the Waterfront.”
“We are going from an airport on the Waterfront to a Waterfront on an airport.”
The Island Airport is less than 100 meters from parts of the Waterfront

The Island Airport is less than 100 meters from parts of the Waterfront

The problem with the airport is “not just one thing. It is the cumulative impact of noise, traffic, pollution.”

“David Crombie advocated a clean, green, accessible Waterfront. That is why he is opposed to jets at the Island Airport.” It upsets the balance.
“The Toronto Port Authority is the proponent on behalf of one tenant.” (Porter Airlines)
Greenberg’s presentation was a review of the enormous changes that have come to the Waterfront since 2002. He talked about the rebuilding of Queen’s Quay, the series of parks that stretch from Ontario Place and Confederation Park, through Fort York to Trinity-Bellwoods. The parks along the water’s edge, new condos, and economic development.
By contrast Robert Deluce tried to sell his jets at the Island Airport scheme. I didn’t take a verbatim record, we have all heard his mantra before, but this is how I remember his points with my criticisms in brackets.
Tests indicate “the CS100 is quieter than the Q400.” (I have never heard that claim before.)
There is no way that the Island Airport will become a massive facility. The airport is just too small.
Large, noisy jets will never be allowed because they cannot meet the noise standards. (Both of these points are probably true, but what he did not mention is that this will allow Porter to keep its near monopoly of the Island Airport.)
The Marine Exclusion Zone will not be expanded. (No one knows that. It is the responsibility of Transport Canada to set this regulation and they have not addressed this issue.)
“Some have said that the lengthening of the runway on the lake side will close the Western Gap. That is not true.” (That depends on the regulations governing the size of the Marine Exclusion Zone, but we can be certain the lengthening of the runway will mean jets will fly over Ontario Place at low altitudes.)
Porter has been good for the Waterfront. (Scores of people would not agree, particularly those who live in Bathurst Quay who suffer the most from the noise, pollution and traffic from the airport.)
The airport has not harmed Waterfront redevelopment. (This is hard to support or refute, but the proposal we are discussing will allow jets and that is a huge increase in the impact of the airport on the Waterfront.)
What was not mentioned by either of the two speakers or the panel of experts were the following.
  • The extension of the runways and the impact of lake and harbour filling on boaters and water quality.
  • Recreation and tourism
  • The Island Park and its use by 1.5 million people every year.
  • The impact of jet blasts on kayaks and small sail boats
  • The need for the Island Airport now that the UP Express is soon to open.
  • Safety such as bird strikes, tall buildings, and the difficulty of rescue operations if a commercial plane landed in the water.
  • Public uses for the 215 acres of airport lands if Billy Bishop is closed.

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