Councillor Doug Ford says he supports a plan by Porter Airlines to use jet aircraft, and to extend the runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport – though other councillors say they’re vehemently opposed.
Porter announced its conditional purchase of 12 Bombardier CS100 aircraft, with options for 18 more, on Wednesday. The first aircraft would be delivered in 2016 and the total value of the deal, if all options and purchase rights are exercised, could reach nearly $2.3-billion.
But in order to proceed with the jet purchase, and to extend the runway 168 metres into water at each end, Porter needs the support of signatories to the airport’s tripartite agreement: the city, the Toronto Port Authority, and the federal government.
Mayor Rob Ford, when asked about the runway extension on Tuesday, said he supports Porter and is in favour of the airport.
Councillor Ford, on Wednesday, after Porter’s announcement had formally been made, said he supports the two amendments to the tripartite agreement the company is after.
“If we didn’t have [Porter president and chief executive officer] Bob Deluce, there’d be a corn field over at the airport right now,” he said. “This is creating jobs, not only here at Porter in the city, but it’s creating jobs at Bombardier. We have over 4,000 employees up at Downsview that are relying on new orders coming in, this being one of them, and we support jobs. And this is going to create jobs, it’s going to create more tourists coming into the city.”
Other councillors were far less enthusiastic.
Karen Stintz said she supports the island airport, but is against lifting the ban on jets or lengthening the runway.
Ms. Stintz, the Toronto Transit Commission chair, said the city has an airport for major flights and a rail link is being built to make it easier to get there.
“There is no reason that we need to have long-haul jets land at the island airport,” she said.
Adam Vaughan said “paving over the lake and filling in the aquatic environment is just something I don’t think Torontonians should, or will, or want to consider.”
Shelley Carroll also expressed her opposition.
When asked if she was ever told there would never be jets at the airport, she said, “That is our agreement.”
Both Mr. Vaughan and Ms. Carroll said it was unclear exactly how the tripartite agreement would be reopened. Ms. Carroll said the only way the city could stake its position would be by discussing the matter at council.