PortsToronto and Its Noisy Airport

PortsToronto seems as sensitive about noise at Billy Bishop Toronto Centre Airport (BBTCA) as it does about questions on the airport’s safety.

For example, PortsToronto put out a press release on June 3, 2015 touting its 2014 Noise Report.  Curiously,  2014 is the first year showing that PortsToronto has sent out a press release about its annual report although its website does list a 2013 annual noise report.

Perhaps PortsToronto didn’t put out a press release touting its 2013 noise report because it shows that in 2013 overall noise complaints increased from 354 to 503. Strangely, though PortsToronto has been collecting noise complaint data since November 2007, annual reports don’t seem to go back any earlier than 2013.  Why would it take PortsToronto eight years to issue a report that makes the organization look like they are doing something about noise?

The press release attributes the drop in complaints from 503 in 2013 to 410 in 2014 to a drop in engine maintenance run-up noise complaints. And while engine-run-ups are not specifically listed in monthly reports, it is clear that although they are conducted at the furthest points from the landside residences, they generate noise loud enough to ruin a person’s sleep. The irony is that according to BBTCA directives, Porter and Air Canada require permission from airport management to conduct after hours maintenance engine runs. A nearby sleeping resident doesn’t contribute to PortsToronto’s coffers. Porter and Air Canada do.

Equally ineffective is the Good Neighbour Policy that hasn’t stopped complaints for eight years. The policy asks pilots within a five mile radius of the airport to avoid flying over noise sensitive areas or fly at least 1,000 feet over them. The policy has no teeth. BBTCA overflight requests are just that – requests. Pilot compliance is voluntary.

If the first annual press release about the second annual noise report is anything to go by, damage control seems to be the name of the game. Still, at 410 complaints in 2014, BBTCA managed to attract more than one noise complaint a day. And that’s something to be proud of? By the way, as of the end of April 2015, noise related complaints were up 22% over the same period last year.

No matter how much lipstick PortsToronto wants to paint on the pig, BBTCA is a noisy place. Furthermore, PortsToronto’s directives and policies don’t seem offer an effective solution.  Can we expect whispering jets that are as loud as the current Q400 turboprops to be a game changer for the better?


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