Skirting Facts

The following exchange took place between CommunityAIR’s Brian Iler and a poster who identifies her/himself as MD2.  The exchange is on The Airline Website.

The thread, Oh oh….maybe the Liberals are serious about no expansion, is a five-page discussion on the recent Liberal announcement on not opening the tripartite agreement.  MD2’s posts are spread throughout the five pages and argue reasons why the expansion should go ahead.

The complete exchange starts when Brian Iler cites one of MD2’s quotes:

MD2, on 17 Nov 2015 – 10:50 PM, said:
To do otherwise would be tantamount to stifling a democratic consultative process which started over two years ago. It would only be prudent for the federal government to allow the process to unfold at the city level first as it should.

Brian’s detailed response to one of MD2’s subsequent posts is copied below.

Following that is MD2’s embarrassingly feeble and puerile comeback.

The exchange is an interesting example of why the pro-expansion argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Brian Iler’s Post

Six points, Michael: (Ed Note: Brian refers to MD2 as Michael Deluce)

First, Porter has never attempted to make a case that jets expansion at the Island Airport is in the public interest.  Asking governments to approve it without establishing how the public interest is best served by that expansion ignores the fundamental role that governments play – protecting the public interest.

Consideration of alternatives to air travel, such as improved passenger rail service, which is far more environmentally friendly, are absent entirely.

Certainly the scope of inquiry, as a matter of public interest, should include possible harm to other public assets and activities.

Island Airport expansion threatens:

  • WaterfrontToronto’s redevelopment plans. These involve multi-billion dollar investments.

Will an expanded Island Airport threaten these plans by discouraging that investment?

  • The viability of the Union Pearson Express. It has been built at a cost of at least $456 million by the provincial government.

This is a public investment made by the people of Ontario.

Will the expansion of the Island Airport threaten the economic viability of the UP Express?

  • Recreational facilities in the Island Park, Ontario Place and boating in Toronto Harbour and Lake Ontario.

Increasing number of people are settling in the downtown core of the city. They will need recreational facilities.

All of these matters are in the public interest and require assessment.

Porter, and Ports Toronto’s studies are silent on any public interest or policy considerations.

Second, the studies to date include no consideration of the environmental challenge of climate change, which is immediate and dire, and, by all informed analysis, will require significant reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases in the very near future.

The aviation industry, as a significant and currently growing contributor to those emissions, will be obliged to do its share.

Tim Johnson, Director of the UK’s Aviation Environment Federation, put this succinctly in a letter in the Independent recently, in relation to the proposed fourth runway at Heathrow:

“With a new runway potentially locking the UK into an emissions path entirely at odds with our long-term climate commitments, politicians will very soon need to face up to the CO2 consequences of sanctioning airport growth.”

Porter, and Ports Toronto’s studies ignore that imperative, which is equally applicable to the jets proposal.

Third, and one would think this would be a pre-condition, no estimates of costs of expansion have been put forward by Porter or Ports Toronto, nor any indication of who would pay for them, seek to indicate that neither of them would.

Oliver Wyman, in a recent report states, that only for the Airport side (ignoring the infrastructure requirements on the City side) “This is not a $ 100 MM project, but closer to $1 BN project once everything is done.”

Neither Porter nor Ports Toronto intend to provide the money, Airport Improvement Fees cannot go higher, and they are dedicated to paying for the $85,000,000 tunnel. Governments have many far more urgent priorities for scarce tax dollars then assisting Porter’s expansion.

Fourth, the studies citing economic benefits are limited and deeply flawed, as described in this economist’s devastating critique.

According to a recent study, airport economic benefits are often overstated, and can be ascribed to aspects of an airport’s location, such as nearby industry and transport links, which often serve as job creators, rather than the airport itself.

No proper economic analysis of the damaging impact that the Island airport has had, and will have, on property values along the waterfront, and therefore on property tax revenues to the City, has been done.

There is ample evidence of that damaging impact elsewhere:

In two paired moderately priced neighborhoods north of Los Angeles International Airport, the study found “an average 18.6 percent higher property value in the quiet neighborhood, or 1.33 percent per dB of additional quiet.” – see http://airportnoisel…rg/propval.html

Fifth, the 2012 Island Airport Master Plan, prepared by Ports Toronto’s own consultants, sets out a host of unsolvable barriers to expansion.

These are excerpts from that Master Plan [my emphasis]:

  • “The provision of public parking is significantly undersized given the level of passenger activity. Industry planning guidelines suggest a provision of approximately 1,000 – 3,000 parking stalls per 1 million enplaned passengers.”

“With approximately 1.5 million passengers, the unrestrained demand for parking at BBTCA would be approximately 750 – 2,000 parking stalls.”

  • “The terminal was designed to support a planning peak hour passenger (PPHP) capacity of 336 in either the domestic or transborder sector.”

“…Given that the existing terminal is designed to accommodate a peak hour demand of approximately 336 passengers, it is likely that areas of the terminal building already exceed demand during peak periods.”

  • “The area of the combined services building allocated for airport maintenance is comprised of four equipment bays and support areas. This facility is not sufficient to accommodate the full needs of the Airport.
  • Given the tight physical constraints of the Airport, particularly in the vicinity of the terminal building, there is no opportunity to provide a centralized de-icing facility.”
  • “With the rapid increase in air carrier activity over the past two years and the allocation of all of the 202 slots available for scheduled air carriers, it is very likely that BBTCA has reached its theoretical capacity of 140,703 movements.”

“Even with modest (1-2%) growth in the other general aviation sectors, the TPA may have to implement measures next year to manage aviation activities.”

  • “At a length of approximately 60m, the drop-off/pick-up curb at the ferry terminus is significantly undersized as compared to airports with comparable passenger activity.”

“ As comparison, the following is a list of similar Canadian Airports, including the number of annual passengers and the length of their terminal curb-side:

Kelowna Airport: 1.3 million annual passengers, curb length of 122m,
Saskatoon Airport: 1.3 million annual passengers, curb length of 150m, and
Victoria Airport: 1.4 million annual passengers, curb length of 200m.”

  • “The current capacity of the two taxi queuing lanes is approximately thirty-four vehicles, which during peak periods is at over-capacity.”

“As a result, taxis often stand on the northbound curb lane of Eireann Quay, which presents a significant congestion and safety concern. …As a result, the TPA is left with an overall taxi system that has far more demand than capacity, and is without any realistic short-term and cost effective mitigating solutions.”

Sixth, adequate emergency access to the Island Airport has never been addressed since a 1993 study that Lisa Raitt, then CEO of the Toronto Port Authority, was referring to in a press release on October 16, 2003:

“The fixed link is a public safety issue. The need for a bridge to get emergency equipment to the airport quickly was identified by an intergovernmental committee almost 10 years ago.” said Ms. Raitt. “In the event of an emergency, it could take up to two hours to get the appropriate equipment over to the island and that’s not acceptable.”

Why, in light of that report, did Porter’s operations even commence in 2006 at the Airport, after newly-elected Toronto mayor David Miller honoured an election promise in 2003 by cancelling the planned bridge?

Minister Raitt, was CEO of the Port Authority throughout the 2003-6 period when the decision was made to ignore this report and proceed with airport expansion with Porter and without a bridge. A FOI inquiry produced no evidence that emergency access was considered at all in deciding to let Porter commence operations.

There’s lots more fact-based material. The case has not been made, and it was Porter’s to make. That’s why the Liberals (and the NDP) pledged to stop jets expansion, and why the Liberals are now honouring that pledge.

MD2’s Rebuttal

Brian,

Nice essay, if it was referred to me, please don’t presume that you know my name. However, very briefly I say that City airport expansion is part and parcel of waterfront revitalization unless of course you only count condos and land developers. As romantic as it sounds, taking the train to L.A or Caribbean is just not practical most times, not to mention that all means of transportation have their environmental footprint. For instance flying on a Q400 one would actually use less fuel than driving an SUV, but scientific facts are not sensational and fantastic enough!

It’s interesting that you think City airport expansion (perhaps its very existence) is bad because it may reduce the use of the train to Pearson! In other words you are saying that Toronto City airport is so convenient that people may not be inclined to ride the train (that was just built by the way) to go to Pearson airport, wait for hours so they can fly from there! Wow this is such a gem!

 

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