16-Year-Olds Protect the Waterfront

In late August, I invited my grandson, Noah (16), to join me with his camera as we went out canvassing in the Beaches area for signatories to our NoJetsTO Petition against the expansion of Billy Bishop Airport. He overheard many comments from people.  A few hours later, we ran out of sunlight (and steam). I was leaving for a five-week trip to Europe, so Noah stepped in and said he would have a go at putting together a film. Until our walkabout, he had not realized how serious the damage of an expanded airport would be for his generation. He presented this film as a gift to NoJetsTO:

Noah lives in Councillor Josh Matlow’s Ward 22 (St. Paul’s), well away from the Waterfront. He invited his friend and classmate, Gideon, who lives in Mary-Margaret McMahon’s Ward 32 (Beaches and East York), to join him. Gideon was already troubled with the noise of the current Q400 turboprops “that even fly over the residential areas.”

I can’t say how proud I am of these boys, as I am sure you will be when you see their video.

Braz Menezes

YQNA member

    Sign this online petition and say no to jet aircraft at the Island Airport.

Aquarium Opens Near Waterfront

One of the spectacular tanks with sturgeons in the Aquarium.
One of the spectacular tanks with sturgeons in the Aquarium.

The great new Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada opened recently to high praise from the public and the Ontario Government, who partly funded the new downtown attraction. More than 13,000 aquatic animals and 450 species are on display in the attractive, low-slung building that extends east of the CN Tower on Bremner Avenue. It took two years to build and cost $130 million.

Mayor Rob Ford said, “This is a beautiful aquarium, and it stimulates our economy.” Around 600 jobs are expected to be created and more than $50 million generated yearly in revenue.  Among the attractions are interactive displays that offer learning for both children and adults as they watch the gorgeous creatures — both small and large — swim close by them in dramatic tank environments.

Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for youth and $10 for children, so it adds up to a fairly expensive family outing though unique and exciting. It is in line with attending other attractions that are clustered in our neighbourhood — the CN Tower, Rogers Centre, the Toronto Railway Museum and Air Canada Centre. With the Aquarium so close to the Waterfront, which already attracts millions of visitors to hugely popular festivals, boat tours and concerts, there is no doubt that we live in a great cultural and economic hotspot of Toronto.

On opening day, the gleaming white Aquarium stood out against thunder clouds over the Financial District.
On opening day, the gleaming white Aquarium stood out against thunder clouds over the Financial District.

Basic Jet Information

A great body of research on jet planes explains why they are kept far away from city centers. Check out Ron Jenkins’ presentation of how jets on the island airport would change life on the Waterfront.

First, an ABC on how a jet engine functions:

Large quantities of air are sucked into two 6-foot diameter holes in front of the plane. The air is propelled by spinning fans to mix with fuel, which is ignited to create enough thrust to lift the plane off the ground.

The highly polluted exhaust coming out the back of the plane can travel up to 549 meters (1800 feet) at ground level at great speed – enough to knock over sailboats.  With longer runways built into the lake, the extended Marine Exclusion Zones (MEZ) would affect sailboats from Ontario Place to York Quay. That is why airports put up signs like this:

The bird sanctuary adjacent to the island airport poses obvious threats to air traffic.  It is home to geese, swans and cormorants that enter the flight path, sometimes in huge migrating flocks. Bird strikes are a real threat to aviation and cause air crashes, such as the plane that went down in the Hudson River in New York.

Allowing the powerful suction of jet engines next to this bird-rich area invites disaster. The alternative is to kill the birds and destroy their habitat to accommodate travelers who won’t go to Pearson to catch a jet plane. Which will it be?


Media Wakes Up to Jet Threat

Despite attempts by Porter Airlines to control media coverage of its proposal to expand the island airport to accommodate jets, some high-profile voices are now raising questions and expressing opposition to Porter’s ill-conceived plans.  YQNA commends those who have spoken out and highlights some of the recent articles.

Christopher Hume, Toronto Star, Sept 25, wrote:

“What Porter and its loudest shill, the federal Toronto Port Authority, don’t want us to know about are the jet fuel storage tanks that would come with an enlarged airport, the enhanced food service operations, the increased traffic, the stream of taxis, the flight path expansion and, of course, the safety and health of students at Waterfront School.” Click for more.

Paul Bedford, Toronto’s former Chief Planner, wrote in the Toronto Star, Sept 17:

“The key issues for city council to consider are: the negative ground-related impacts of an expanded airport on the Bathurst Quay neighbourhood; the threat to ongoing revitalization of the central waterfront; and the inability to control the future expansion of Billy Bishop Airport… Toronto only has one waterfront and its future now rests in the hands of city council. Why would we ever surrender it to a private interest?” Click for more.

Guy Dixon reported in the Globe and Mail, Sept 24:

“The city survey of 1,002 Toronto residents suggests a far more mixed public response compared with previous surveys released by the Toronto Port Authority and Porter Airlines… A telephone survey commissioned by the city concluded that ‘half of Torontonians say that an expanded airport with jets does not fit with the revitalized waterfront, and Toronto residents living in the waterfront area are most likely to say that the airport does not fit.'” Click for more.

Enzo Di Matteo, Now Magazine, Sept 12 and Sept 23 wrote:

“All the noise about noise has become a distraction… The potential health effects from a 30 per cent increase in jet travel on the waterfront and the impact on jet travel on the lake, our drinking water, have received less consideration… What will an expanded airport mean for traffic at the foot of Bathurst, which is a chaotic mess now? It’ll probably suck the life out of the area. But that issue has barely registered outside of those directly affected… One of the biggest misconceptions: that most of the opposition to Porter’s plans is coming from folks opposed to the existence of the airport, period. In fact, not even NoJetsTO, the group spearheading opposition, is against an airport on the waterfront. It’s against expansion.” Click here and here for more.

Glenn Svarich, Toronto Star, Sept 29:

Another reasonable and well-informed writer, Glenn Svarich in Scarborough, wrote “What’s at stake for airport on island” in the Toronto Star. He lays out the consequences of admitting jets and extended runways. Click for more.


NOW Reveals Deluce’s Flight Path

Photo: Ottawa Business Journal
Photo: Ottawa Business Journal

NOW Magazine has just broken the omerta around the proposed jet expansion of the Island Airport. No other media have told the real story of the political power plays that have led to Porter Airlines’ dominance over the Waterfront. Read this and wonder. Share the link with your friends, so word can finally get out about this looming urban planning disaster. You might get motivated to attend the City’s public meeting at Exhibition Hall on Sep. 19 (see notice on this page).