Mar 24, 2014 - Literary    1 Comment

Help Us Make Protest Go Viral Today Vs Expanding Airport

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You have less than three hours to help NoJetsTO make a protest go viral against expanding the Billy Bishop airport. All you need to do is sign up on this link to make happen: This is the link:

https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/9696-saying-nojetsto-to-to-council?locale=en

Meanwhile, as many of you know, I’ve been working hard to publish information about the dangers of expanding Billy Bishop airport in Toronto. A lot of the crucial information about the proposed expansion hasn’t been making it into the newspapers. So I was glad to see the Toronto Star ran an op-ed column today by Air Canada CEO Calvin Rovinescu.

Rovinescu is against the current expansion plan and he made some points that don’t get aired a lot. Rovinescu pointed out that the Billy Bishop Airport is a public facility that has been handed over to a private company, Porter Airlines. He also said that expanding the airport will cost taxpayers over one hundred million to three million to upgrade airport facilities. He wondered why one private company would be given such preferential treatment. Why, indeed?

Rovinescu didn’t say this in his article but another word for Porter’s dealing with Toronto politicians and the Toronto Port Authority is crony capitalism. That is, a select group of business people make strategic alliances with politicians in order to get public funding for their private companies.

If you want to see more of Rovinescu’s case check out page 16 of today’s Star or the link: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/03/24/public_interest_must_prevail_in_island_airport_debate.html

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2 Comments

  • my city councillor here in the Beach has promised to support no jets, according to a reply to an email I sent. Thanks for keeping us attentive to this issue, Susan.

    • Oh, that’s good news about your councillor! And city hall announces its report on the proposed airport expansion tomorrow. I think they are going to defer the decision.

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Mar 12, 2014 - Literary    2 Comments

We thought the city agreement protected us

airplanesovertoronto

My name is Bob Ramussen and I live near the island airport. Why am I against its proposed expansion? When the large jets start flying, whether louder or quieter, the increased traffic congestion will make the waterfront a dead zone.

It is simply not possible to squeeze the same number of passengers who now fly through Ottawa’s airport through Billy Bishop. The island airport is located smack dab in the middle of an area that the city of Toronto has zoned as a residential, park and cultural community.

Let me say it again: Why am I against the proposed expansion of the island airport? Because it will only make the quality of downtown life worse. Recently, the island airport has expanded to over two million passengers a year, and that makes our quality of life bad enough. But the proposed expansion to well over four million will degrade our once beautiful waterfront even more.

Here’s some background on me: When my wife and I purchased our harbourfront condominium in 1996, we lived in Hong Kong. But we had decided to retire to Canada, and we wanted to live in a waterfront environment close to city amenities. We chose downtown Toronto over Victoria and Vancouver so we could enjoy the cultural excitement of this city and, in particular, Toronto Island, Harbourfront Centre and the Music Garden.

We knew there was a small airport serving mainly small planes. We also knew the city’s Tripartite Agreement protected our investment because the agreement forbid the use of jet planes. But we really never worried about airport expansion because no city would ever consider destroying its greatest asset. Or so we thought.

Our building has a beautiful garden plaza. It was a spot where, for many years, we could lounge, eat, visit with friends and enjoy the greenery and lake view. It has now become a noisy, unpleasant place to be. During the busy late afternoon flight period, eating and talking with friends is no longer the joy we used to experience. In the past, we also kept our windows open to let the lake breezes blow through our home in the summer. Rarely did we use air conditioning. Now the island airport makes it necessary to always keep windows closed when watching television, listening to music or talking.

Many years ago we lived in Mississauga underneath a flight path to Pearson. We looked up, way up, to see the planes fly overhead. Now we look down to see the planes pass by our windows. Hong Kong had an airport like the one being proposed for our waterfront. Hong Kong closed it. Toronto wants to build one.

Toronto’s Department of Health voted against expansion last November. So here’s my last question: Why are city councillors still debating this irresponsible expansion?

2 Comments

  • I think a columnist recently said, “Fix Pearson. “Some truly snazzy buses from downtown to the airport surely are possible. Brazil has some very luxurious, comfortable buses..

    • We are getting the rail link to Pearson in 2015. That will make a big difference!

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Feb 28, 2014 - Literary    9 Comments

What’s With the Sticky Black Stuff on the Window Sills?

smudged window

Photo by Llima Orosa

I’ve made it my job (since the papers aren’t doing it) to find out about the sticky black stuff on the windows of downtown residences along with the impact of jets on our air and water quality. So check out my blog next week for missing information about Toronto’s air and water quality. On Dec 9, 2013, Toronto’s board of health voted against the expansion of the island airport because it is a threat to Torontonians’ health.

In a city map based on the board’s report, NOW magazine demonstrated that serious pollution from the airport goes as high as Queen street and reaches as far as Queen’s Park. More pollution brings more lung and heart disease, the Toronto Board of Health says. So don’t assume you’re safe from the impact of the airport just because you don’t live on the harbour.

In the meantime, here’s my interview with Rick Persich who will move out of his home on Bathurst Quay if the airport expansion is approved. By the way, Rick Persich is still waiting to hear what the city’s health officials have to say about the black sticky substance on his window sills:

I live in Windward Co-op at 34 Little Norway Crescent. Looking out my window, I can almost count the distance on my fingers from my town house to the airport hangars. It feels about three hundred meters. (The quotes are different depending where you’re counting from.) So if the airport expansion is approved I will move after living here twenty-five years. Ideally, I’d like to stay close to the city but I’m an actor and a recently certified teacher and I will go where the work is.

The particulate matter on my window sill used to be a brownish colour but it’s turned blacker. In February, some city inspectors took a sample of the sticky black residue and put it in a petri dish. They haven’t got back to me yet. Inspector Barbara La Chapelle was here in her fur coat. She said while standing on my balcony, “You sure do live close.” Or something like that. She said the city’s health study would not be biased. That was one of my concerns because the Toronto Port Authority paid for the city’s study.

Last Monday, perhaps because of stormy weather, the airport activity was almost nil. I couldn’t put my finger on what was different until I realized how quiet it was. My whole being felt calm and peaceful. It was a profound feeling, and I realized how the ubiquitous din from the airport helps create a kind of inner tension in my personal being. One seems to get used to it and not realize what an assault constant noise is.

When I moved to the Bathurst Quay neighborhood I expected to live a fairly peaceful life, slightly separated from the inner city core and near the fresh air of Lake Ontario. At the time, BBTCA was a small and acceptable regional airport. But that changed when Porter expanded its flights in 2006 and the proposed expansion would pretty much finish off our wonderful neighborhood by the water.

By the way, an increase in cancer has been recorded in my area, especially in Arcadia Co-op which has a high concentration of people with cancers on the 6th and 7th floors of their building. I mention this because a dear friend of ours, who lives in Arcadia, has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. One cannot conclusively say that this cancer was caused by air pollution emanating from jet fuel but a connection could be drawn. The turboprops now in use at the airpot have jet engines with propellers and they run on the same highly toxic fuel as jets.

Read more on this topic at Now Magazine’s: The Island airport: hazardous to Toronto’s health

9 Comments

  • This is so alarming! I hope this information will be picked up by the media, although I notice The Star is featuring ads promoting Porter Airlines before its on-line videos. I wonder whether, in this great cold, there was a healthy(!) turnout in Scarborough regarding the proposed expansion of flight frequency at the Island. Thank you for bringing this to your readers’ attention.

  • I’m glad you clarified you live near the airport so your readers are now aware that your writings are of a personal and not subjective nature. I thought this was probably the case when I read another of your reports yesterday. I forget the title.
    As for health issues from pollution, it is proven that automobile pollution is far greater by comparison and the cancer issue would most likely be due to the aging populations in your area. You have to admit most people have been there at least as long as you and so the average age for the area is much greater now than when you moved there.
    As for the noise I would bet you are in favor of the noise pollution that comes with the installation of the windmill farms in our urban areas. (I find it highly improbable you would vote anything but NDP or Liberal living where you do).
    Sorry, no sympathy for you from me or any of the people out here in the boonies.

    • Wrong, wrong, wrong! I don’t live near the airport! You have misread me. It is Rick Persich who lives on the harbour and Rick is the one telling the story about the black sticky stuff on his window sills. I live in the Bloor Spadina area of Toronto. So far there is no black sticky stuff on my window sills but I am still concerned about the impact of more pollution on Toronto. And you are very much mistaken to think that the effects of the pollution are limited to the harbour residents.

      Your comment about Toronto already being polluted by cars doesn’t make sense. It is true that cars pollute too but why add to their pollution by expanding the airport? The proposed plan for expansion calls for doubling the number of passengers from over two million to well over four million a year. That means more traffic in the downtown, and jet fuel emissions. The Toronto Board of Health has already voted against the expansion plan because it says it is bad for the health of Torontonians. Does their decision mean nothing to you?

      • Actually, no it doesn’t. Health Boards are political entities, not scientific. They tend, especially in Toronto, to lean towards what the politicians want and also to make decisions not asked for that lean towards the same direction.
        Toronto’s left wing political leaning means a lot of bad Health Board decisions over the years that have cost the city a great deal of revenue.
        Also, there will be negligible traffic increases as studies have shown that since the bridge was never built most people using Billy Bishop use public transportation to get there.
        As for the extra pollution, jets use a special fuel that has minimal pollutants. The extra pollution would, therefore, also be negligible. Being ex-navy and having had to learn about it, I know this to be fact. Canadian warships use jet turbines for propulsion along with diesel depending on the speed needed.
        The current Q400s at the airport are Turboprop which means they use jet fuel. This fuel burns clean (meaning low pollution and clear emission) and would never leave a black sludge because of this. That doesn’t mean the sludge isn’t from the airport in some way. Just not the Porter aircraft.

  • Noise and air pollution are only two of the many issues. The project has four elements – expanding the runways, larger aircraft, long haul service and jets. Each has it own set of problems, that collectively or even individually, make Porter’s proposal unsuitable. Unfortunately the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) has no plan to deal with the problems. Rather, it is content to stay out of the debate. It has offered to complete a full environmental assessment (EA) AFTER council renders a positive decision. It has offered to address some issues in the Master Plan AFTER a positive decision has been rendered. Sadly the items covered in an EA or Master Plan need to be dealt with BEFORE a decision is rendered, a point the TPA does not grasp. Hopefully the councilors will.

    • i’m curious about who is paying for the building of the tunnel to the airport … if it’s an investment on behalf of Porter by Porter the pressure on the city to ensure that investment pays off must be considerable …

      • The tunnel is being designed, built, financed, operated and maintained under a “P3” arrangement with a consortium. The capital cost is $82.5 million. TPA will repay the costs with a series of monthly payments coming from a revenue stream generated by a portion of the $20 Airport Improvement Fee paid by departing passengers. The real question is who will backstop this revenue stream in the event Porter goes under or abandons the airport? Given the number of airlines in Toronto’s aviation dustbin this is within the realm of possibility. (Porter has not released any financial information since its IPO was suspended in 2011 and it no longer issues monthly activity data that is common in the industry.) In this scenario, there is no guarantee that Air Canada and WestJet would fill the void. They could decide to serve the market from Pearson thereby avoiding the costs of split operations. The result would be an airport with a tunnel, extended runways, no airlines, no passengers, no revenue stream and huge financial obligations.

      • Good question. I suspect the taxpayer is paying for it. Will find out!

    • We can’t count on the TPA–except that it is obliged to follow city council’s decision. And that’s where we need to put pressure. Such a frustrating situation. Thanks for your reply!

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