An Open Letter to Conservative MP Andrew Scheer,

By Thursday, May 5, 2016 0 No tags Permalink 0

Greetings MP Scheer,

I’m writing regarding your demeaning comments in early March about the
Toronto Island Airport debacle, comments very accurately characterized
by one Toronto resident as “ignorant and mean- spirited.”

You insulted my MP, me and every person who actually lives on the
Toronto waterfront, hundreds of miles away from your Saskatchewan riding.

In a debate about the Income Tax Act, your peculiar, even bizarre
address ranged from tax-free savings accounts to the magic of alchemy
and then ‘private sector stimulus’ of the economy in support of the
poisonous airport blight on the Toronto waterfront.

You referenced my MP from Spadina-York, saying that Adam Vaughan
“cares passionately about this because he represents a lot of very
rich condo-dwellers in downtown Toronto who do not want the
inconvenience of jets landing and spoiling their waterfront view as
they wake up in the morning and drink their fancy coffee.”

So waterfront condo-dwellers are all rich, drink fancy coffee in the
morning and resent their ‘waterfront view’ being spoiled by jets, huh?
Your ignorance is breath-taking.

Some condo dwellers are wealthy and you’ve turned this into a kind of
insulting sin, a hugely- ironic back-handed insult from a well-paid MP
with a guaranteed-for-life pension. Some condo dwellers – many, in
fact – are now on fixed incomes; many have 400 to 500-square-foot
condos, the size of a hotel room; some are in subsidized housing; some
are in co-op housing for artists.

I am one of those waterfront condo-dwellers and have been for a number
of years. And your comments are ignorant in the classic dictionary
sense of clearly knowing little or nothing.

Here’s a bit of first-hand, first-person data which may begin to
educate you and others on the destruction of what was once to be
Toronto’s “waterfront jewel” and is now a playground for an airline
that thinks and acts as though it owns and controls the entire Toronto
waterfront. How perfectly appropriate that its mascot is a raccoon – a
masked bandit scavenger against which Toronto has declared war, at least in town.

An “inconvenience of jets landing and spoiling (my) waterfront view”
as I have my morning coffee?

Here’s a reality check for someone who has clearly never spent any
time whatsoever on Toronto’s waterfront or if you have, you were
wearing a blindfold and earplugs.

This is a seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year onslaught of aircraft
taking off and landing all day every single day beginning often at
6:30 a.m. and ending often long past the reputed 11 p.m. cut- off for
landings. These aircraft are 6-700 feet in front of my front windows.
There is no reprieve, no period of time off-limits, never one single
day or night each and every week, every month, all year long and every
single year this airline has been flying that we are not subject to
the equivalent of a motorcycle gang parked in front of our homes
revving their engines repeatedly and randomly all day and all night.

Airplanes on Christmas Eve; on Christmas morning; on Good Friday; on
Easter Monday; on Canada Day; at dinner-time; at breakfast; throughout
the day; seven days a week, with never one single day of peace and quiet.

Take a look at these numbers for evening hours on only three recent
dates and tell me with a straight face you think this is merely an
“inconvenience,” and how you would enjoy this kind of aircraft traffic
every single day directly in front of your house with no escape ever.
These numbers reflect only take-offs – not landings – during the
evening hours just after dinner:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016; a one and a half hour period of time just after
dinner; 8:12; 8:13; 8:20; 8:25; 8:27; 8:30; 8:32; 8:38; 8:39; 8:42;
8:44; 8:53; 9:05; 9:09; 9:10; 9:13; 9:14; 9:15; 9:21; 9:23; 9:25;
9:32; 9:34; 9:35; 9:37; 9:38; At 10:32 a very loud helicopter made its
way slowly down the harbour to land; at 10:53, 11:18 and 11:23, more aircraft landing.
Total in an hour and a half; 26 take-offs

Wed. April 13, 2016;

6:59 p.m., private jet; 7:05; 7:35; 7:58; 8:00; 8:25; 8:32; 8:39;
8:56; 9:00; 9:02; 9:14; 9:25; 9:34; 9:38 private jet; 9:48; 9:50;
10:15; two later take-offs at 11:40 p.m. and 11:42 p.m.
Total in two hours: 18; add two after-hours take-offs.

Tuesday, April 4, 2016: a one-hour period in the late evening:

9:24 p.m.; 9:30; 9:32; 9:33; 9:42; 9:43; 9:45; 9:47; 9:49; 9:58;
10:00; 10:04; 10:06; 10:10; 10:14; 10:18; 10:23; 10:26; 10:29; 10:30; 10:35.
Total in one hour – 21 take-offs. And these are NOT even the busy
times at Toronto’s (Air)Port Authority.

One Sunday evening a year ago April, I counted 57 aircraft landing at
the island airport between 6 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. That’s only four
hours of counting airplanes – and again, that’s only aircraft landing – the numbers don’t include aircraft taking off at the other end of this tiny island. That’s evening operations; often these aircraft take off at 6:30 a.m. in the morning or even earlier, and continue all morning.

Perhaps you are one of those who ‘love the smell of jet fuel in the
morning,’ like the character in the Viet Nam era movie. Try living
with it in front of your house every single day of the year, morning
to night, without ever a single break. How about the taste of jet fuel
in your coffee and the grime of jet fuel covering your windows and
inside your home? Sound good to you?

The other Torontonian wrote about “your sneering remarks about rich
condo-dwellers” and their “fancy coffee” – that’s sweet coming from a
party that protected and aided the one per centers, yet chatters out
of both sides of your mouth when it suits your purpose to insult some
of them.  Coffee with a surface film of jet fuel – mmmmm, good! You like it?
You drink it. You clearly haven’t the slightest notion of the
demographic make-up of this neighbourhood and yet you astonishingly,
hypocritically, use hypothetic and imaginary wealth as a way to insult
us and trivialize our daily experience.

The demographic make-up of this area is far, far broader than you
evidently can imagine, let alone actually know. But then how could
you, being part of the Conservative government that trashed the long-form, mandatory census?

Check the data from the current reformed census now underway; you
might actually learn something about the neighbourhood you denigrate.

The pollution of living beside an airport is not something anyone in
this neighbourhood ever agreed to, nor the danger of a massive,
above-ground jet fuel tank farm within striking distance of most of
our homes. The jet fuel depot on the island in its present unsecured,
above- ground configuration holds the jet fuel equivalent of 2,500
Tons of TNT. That’s an explosive, in case you lack of familiarity
extends to this arena as well. Remember Megantic? Remember the Sunrise Propane explosion? No? Look it up.

Jets already fly out of the island airport, in DIRECT contravention of
the Tripartite Agreement which bans jets. At an April, 2015 meeting,
Port Authority presenters blithely admitted, without the slightest
hesitation, that jets already fly out of the airport and even provided
a slide showing the types of jets they ‘permit’ to fly out of the airport – Lear jets.

One of the most astonishing figures also provided was also not
reported; a 2012 study (hardly current) by Transport Canada citing 140,000 take-off-and-landings per year; that’s 383 take-off- and-landings per day. How can anyone
possibly consider this reasonable in a full-on residential/recreation/ tourist area?

And how would you like to live on the single short residential street
leading into the airport where a minimum four large fuel tanker trucks
cross to the island every single day? Whether they use the ferry –
right alongside the passengers and pilots using the airport, or the
new multi- million dollar tunnel, the fuel trucks run right beside the
school, the community centre and all those unfortunates who live at
the foot of Bathurst Street. A Megantic-on-the-waterfront disaster
would ensure that that entire area would be entirely gone, just like
downtown Megantic, in such an event.

B.C. ferry operators requires hazardous materials to be transported on
their ferries only once per week,  with fully-manifested loads
submitted days or weeks in advance, and with no passengers or private
cars allowed at all on the ferry carrying dangerous goods. Toronto
waterfront residents I guess aren’t entitled to the same kind of
basic, garden-variety common sense approach to transport of dangerous good. And who made THAT decision?

The 1983 Tripartite Agreement was crystal clear; no jets – and private
jets continually fly out of the island airport; no new runways – and
Porter wants an entirely new run-way; no extension of existing runways  – and Porter and cronies contemplate paving over Toronto Harbour to
extend the runways. So – how much is anyone’s word worth, when the
federal government allows such a crystal- clear agreement to be
trashed over and over and over again? With sneering insults from federal MPs like you?

No-one was ever asked or agreed to the poisonous de-icing fluid that
is washed off the runways into the lake in winter; the elimination of
enjoyment of a walk along the waterfront – or on the Toronto Islands
themselves – because of every sound being drowned out by aircraft and
the taste of jet fuel wafting down the waterfront – lovely for patio
dining; the pointlessness of building a world-class Music Garden
directly across from an airport that drowns out the music the garden
was built for; the terrifying off-flight-path approach or take-off of
aircraft that miss the designated flight path and very nearly fly into
the homes built beside the waterfront. And don’t forget the ‘run-ups,’
the endless minutes-long running of these airplane engines parked on
the runway with engines ramped up to full speed for ‘testing purposes’
and ‘maintenance,’ often on Sunday nights, often for 15-20 minutes at
a time. The entire harbour becomes deafening with the roar of engines
ricocheting off the concrete towers Toronto council has allowed to be built along the entire waterfront.

Don’t even think of denying this fact; I’m one of the residents who
has heard it all and seen it – planes missing the down-the-harbour
flight path and very nearly flying into the towers along the waterfront.

This is a PORT – a harbour in which there is water. A port means
shipping by water; it is unfathomable how anyone sane or otherwise
could misconstrue, deform and transmogrify a harbour into an AIRport.

The harbour is a place for water craft, for residents, for ships and
sailboats and waterfront activities.

The real loss, the telling, potentially crippling loss the (Air)Port
Authority has walked into blindly – or perhaps deliberately – lies
hundreds of miles to the south, where the opening of the new Panama
Canal is scheduled for this year. No-one in Toronto seems to know or
care about this. The expanded canal will handle much larger container
ships and no doubt, passenger ships, the new 350-meter ‘Panamax’
ships. Cities all along the eastern seaboard are already expanding
their ports and harbours to accommodate marine shipping and water
traffic that – duh! – also reduces road and highway congestion.

No cruise ships ever dock in Toronto anymore, though we have the
perfect harbour and the perfect downtown close to the waterfront. We
have an (Air)Port Authority, NOT a Port Authority.

Does no-one, let alone the (Air)Port Authority, understand what a huge
draw cruise ships are to a city – not only the thousands of passengers
that take a day or two to explore the city, but the people who live
here, who, in other cities, gather to watch the docking or departure
of some of these beautiful ships? Go to Vancouver, MP Scheer  – or is
that MP Sneer? People who want to play with airplanes should go to
airports – not surreptitiously build one on a city’s waterfront and
then inch-by-inch, day-by-day, bit-by-bit, work repeatedly behind the
scenes to expand it into something totally and completely unacceptable.

Even the fast ferry to Buffalo or Rochester was turned into a
shell-game by putting the docking terminal way over on the industrial
east side of the harbour, where there is no public transit, no
streetcars, no cafes or shops, no walkable distances to get to
downtown or anywhere. That ensured its total, abject failure before it was even out of the gate.

Find out something about what you’re trying to talk about before you
slag people and neighbourhoods about which you know nothing. And look
at what has been done and is being done to thousands upon thousands of
people who live on Toronto’s waterfront, and the thousands who visit,
either other Torontonians or visitors from other places. You will, if
you take the time to look, see that an airport like that has no place
on the waterfront and its convenience for business and politico types
does not in any way outweigh the daily, grinding racket and pollution
that no-one should be subject to.

As I write this at dinnertime, the passenger planes are taking off
about every one to two minutes, and have been for the last half hour.
This will go on for hours.

Put this installation 500 feet from your own front door; or in Forest
Hill or Rosedale. See how popular it is for residents to be forced to
live like this. See how you like it


Daphne Lavers, M.J.

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