Waterfront Toronto’s Board of Directors, in its capacity as the agency entrusted by the federal, provincial and city governments and the public to be the steward of waterfront revitalization, held a special meeting today to discuss the issue of the proposed expansion of operations at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA).
The decision regarding the expansion of BBTCA is a generational question, with impacts that can potentially profoundly affect both the significant achievements that have already been made to transform the waterfront into a destination to live, work and play, and the future revitalization prospects for the entire Waterfront.
At today’s meeting, the Board of Directors approved the following position, which is contained in a letter to the City of Toronto Executive Council:
The serious transportation, road congestion and community impact issues created by the airport’s current operations need to be addressed before considering expansion and the potential exacerbation of these issues. For example, the City of Toronto technical studies show that the proposed expansion could more than double peak car volumes at Eireann Quay from 750 per hour to 1,715 per hour.
We are also concerned that the Tri-Partite Agreement inadequately protects the waterfront given that it already allows significant expansion from the current 2.3 million passengers per year to at least 3.8 million per year with currently approved technology. Any re-opening of the Agreement should look carefully at appropriate caps for airport operations as is done in many other airports in city environments.
Given the findings of the City of Toronto’s review, the problematic conditions for transportation and traffic created by the airport’s current operations, Waterfront Toronto believes that expansion has the potential to create significant risks for waterfront revitalization.
There is a clear vision for the waterfront being implemented now that is transforming our waterfront. What is required is a clear vision and decision on the appropriate scale for BBTCA within a thriving waterfront. Specifically, how large can the airport become before a tipping point is reached that overwhelms and threatens the present and future potential of the waterfront?
No decision on expansion should proceed without the information required to make this generational decision.
Waterfront Toronto is successfully leading the planning and implementation of the largest urban regeneration project in North American and one of the largest in the world. The more than $1.26 billion in public funds invested to date have already generated commitments of $2.6 billion in development investments, which will return $1.46 billion in revenues to governments as well as catalyzing an additional $9.6 billion in private sector investment.