Residents advise Board of Health about Island Airport pollution

Fifteen deputations, including representatives from the Harbourfront Community Centre, Bathurst Quay Neighbourhood Association, Port Lands Action Committee, Community AIR, Harbourfront Community Association, St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association and the YQNA spoke before the January 18 meeting of the Toronto Board of Health at City Hall. The agenda focused on pollution control at Pearson International Airport and Toronto City Centre Airport (TCCA), better known as the Island Airport.

While the Pearson representatives gave a detailed report of their successful efforts to cut down emissions and noise, with exemplary public participation, the TCCA provided none of the materials the Board had requested and didn’t send any representatives.

Many citizens filled the committee room, and delegate after delegate spoke with elegant indignation about the water, air, and noise pollution caused by the Island Airport. Several spoke of the myriad carcinogenic chemicals contained in the cloud of diesel fuel that hangs over the Bathurst Quay neighbourhood and others detailed the damage, and cost to the city, from the airplane de-icing fluid which the Island Airport disgorges, untreated, into the city’s sewer system.

After all the deputations, our two City councillor, Pam McConnell and Adam Vaughan and Board of Health members introduced motions that included directing the Board to look into the long term effects of water and noise and air pollution generated by the Island Airport. The motions also asked the Board of Health to study what Environmental Assessments are required before Porter Airlines is allowed to proceeded with its planned tripling of passenger volume and flight frequency.

This hearing was a turning point for residents who have watched the unchecked growth of this airport. It is supposed to be governed by a Tripartite agreement between the Federal Government, Toronto Port Authority (TPA) and the City of Toronto. The first two partners have managed to expand the airport with taxpayers’ money and little oversight or concern for the Waterfront. Meanwhile, the City of Toronto has been inexplicably lax, though it is reportedly owed $38 million in back taxes from the TPA. So it was a pleasant surprise for citizens who spoke to be understood and well received by the Board of Health, which has six City Councillors as members. We are hoping these sympathetic councillors will give a wake-up call to the rest of City Council before the Waterfront becomes completely compromised by this growing and very polluting airport.

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