A Worthless EA?

By Wednesday, December 2, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 1

If the overwhelming number of articles of, from and by airport expansionists is anything to go by, their main strategy seems to be to let the studies, including the Environmental Assessment, take their course and let city council decide.

Given the level of faith in the studies, it’s almost as if they will show that longer runways should be built. But how can this possibly be?

If experience is anything to go by, PortsToronto will have a consultant who will produce an EA that will determine “the Project can be developed without adverse significant effects on the environment.”

And what if there are significant effects? Consider the following.

As is often noted by airport expansion proponents, the studies are 90% complete. The fact that expansionists cite a 90% completion figure in their arguments is likely enough to tell them that the EA has findings they want to hear.

Indeed, in a post on an aviation forum where a discussion on the dead expansion issue rages, long time poster MD2, purported to be in senior management at Porter Airlines, stated,

“And those “issues” that you listed do have solutions that are included in the studies that will come out shortly.”

What does the poster really know?

Months ago PortsToronto released its blueprint for the EA. Dated August 2015, Environmental Assessment of a Proposed Runway Extension and Introduction of Jets at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport Final Study Design Report sets out the study parameters.

However, in the off-chance that the findings may not meet the needs of the expansion proponents, the report prepared by airport builder AECOM has these two troubling paragraphs that are worthy of consideration.

The first one reads:

The study will follow the evaluation process and decisions outlined in this document; however, it is possible that during the EA, PortsToronto will determine that minor changes to the process are required based on new and directly applicable information from the Study Team or through discussions with a regulatory authority or agency. These changes to the process may include modifications or additions to the impact assessment evaluation methodologies or to the engagement methods, for example. If this should occur, affected parties will be notified of the proposed changes.

Translation: We’ll do whatever we want.
Here’s the second one:

It is important to note that this EA is not an approval of Porter Airline’s proposal, nor does it imply support for or against any aspect of the proposal. The result of the EA will be information that will allow all stakeholders to objectively consider the proposal and to make a decision for themselves on the choices that need to be made in terms of impacts, benefits, and mitigation measures associated with the potential implementation of the proposal.

Translation: Stakeholders can think whatever they want of the final result, we’ll do whatever we want.

Earlier this year five prominent Torontonians called PortsToronto’s EA process a sham. Given, in the final study report, the two paragraphs with holes big enough to drive a couple of cement trucks through, the five prominent Torontonians may be on to something.

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