In a short story, I once wrote that a human being grows slower than any creature in the universe … slower than dogs or roses… And our slow evolution is obvious when I see what’s going on with the new plan to expand the island airport. Do we really need to wait until the waterfront is no longer liveable, when people and businesses move out of downtown Toronto because the air is poisoned, and the noise unbearable? In the interest of hurrying our slow, sloth-like tendency to respond too late to choices that are bad for us, I’m starting a new series of interviews with people who live under the planes. They can tell us what it really feels, hears and smells like right now in downtown Toronto. Our daily newspapers aren’t giving us this information; Porter Airlines spends too much money on ads for the newspapers to rock the boat so I’m going to provide some of the missing information on my blog. The following is an interview with Barbara, who lives on Bathurst Quay.
When I moved to Bathurst Quay 28 years ago, the island airport was a sleepy little airport. We thought it would remain little and sleepy because we were told we were protected by the Tripartite Agreement.
Since 2006, everything has changed here. Huge fuel trucks pass daily in front of schoolchildren and other pedestrians. Taxis speed through the intersection to the airport, almost knocking us over. Airport limousines and private cars idle in the no parking area in front of our wheelchair ramp. They also line up idling in the bicycle lane on Queens Quay next to the park. The drivers get mad and refuse to move when we point out that it is a bicycle lane and that idling is illegal. I wake up between 6:30 and 6:45 every morning when the engine run-ups and turboprop takeoffs and landings start. We can no longer eat dinner on our balcony because the noise is unpleasant and fairly constant now, and we often can’t hear others speaking.
I recently had a landmark birthday. I wanted to plan a big party and invite friends from far and wide to celebrate with me. Then I realized–I can’t have a big party. The airport has filled all the parking lots in our area, and there is nowhere for my friends to park.
(Out-of-town Visitors to Harbourfront, who complain of scarce parking, will find it even scarcer this summer, now that Porter Airlines has made a deal for airport parking with the parking garage across the street from Harbourfront Centre.)
I developed a chronic lung condition (a form of COPD) in 2009. I can’t afford to move to a part of Toronto with better air. I understand that even the current level of air pollution, and surely airport expansion will shorten my life.