I’ve been back and forth with my opinions on this for a while now.
I realized that I’ve flip-flopped, then flipped, then flopped, but after flapping, and then flooping, I’ve finally decided to vote “nay” to this project.
Wait…..I don’t get a vote? Then what was that phone call to my home for? A “survey?” Dammit…
Somebody in my office saw me typing this blog post and said, “I couldn’t possibly care less what they do with that airport.”
I think that’s one of the stupidest things a Torontonian could say.
You have to care about the potential airport expansion; you just have to.
Even you live in Forest Hill, and you think you won’t be affected by this, you will be – in one way or another.
Before I opine on the subject, here’s an excerpt from Guy Dixon’s column in the Globe & Mail the other day that explains how, apparently, most Torontonians feel:
TORONTO RESIDENTS SPLIT ON DOWNTOWN AIRPORT EXPANSION
By: Guy Dixon
The Globe & Mail
A new survey shows Toronto residents are divided in their response to a proposal to operate jet aircraft from the downtown Toronto Islands airport.
A telephone survey commissioned by the city concluded that “half of Torontonians say that an expanded airport with jets does not fit with the revitalized waterfront, and Toronto residents living in the waterfront area are most likely to say that the airport does not fit.”
The plan to expand the airport and use jet aircraft had the support of 47 per cent of those surveyed, while 45 per cent were opposed.
The survey was released on Tuesday as part of a staff update for the city’s executive committee, which is debating proposals by the Toronto Port Authority and Porter Airline to extend a runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and operate Bombardier CS100 jets.
The city survey found that the concerns of people who live near the airport dwelt mostly on the environmental impact on the lakeshore and increased traffic congestion in the area at the foot of Bathurst Street.
When I first heard about the idea for airport expansion, I had my doubts, but thought that overall it was a good idea. The airport itself is a great idea, and the flights are super convenient, and make travelling to New York, Montreal, or Chicago, for business or pleasure, a breeze compared to Pearson.
But the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that this isn’t about the convenience, once a year, for each of us (probably less, on average), of saving 45 minutes, $20 in gas or cab fare, and a bit of frustration from waiting in line.
This is about the city as a whole, and more specifically, the downtown core.
Toronto’s downtown core, despite all of its positives, is a failure, in my eyes. At least at the moment, but it doesn’t have to be, going forward.
Downtown Toronto is far too dense, and far too congested, in terms of the number of people living in such a small area, and the amount of traffic, both automobile, and pedestrian.
I know that “other cities” around the world are far more dense. Shanghai, has a population of 37,000,000 people living in 6,340 square-KM (5,836 per sqKM), whereas Toronto pales in comparison: 5,583,000 people living in 7,125 square-KM (784 per sqKM).
But we have to put things in perspective, and consider Toronto as a Canadian city, or at the most, look at it from a north American perspective.
We have perhaps the worst infrastructure of all the metropolitan areas in North America, and as city council continues to argue about how to build a subway extension, we residents, continue to suffer.
So what is my point to all of this?
What does the population of Shanghai have to do with anything?
I believe that to expand the Toronto island airport would only serve to put a band-aid on the real problems here, which are, in the most basic form:
1) Toronto’s Pearson International airport is inaccessible via public transit
2) Toronto’s highway system is not equipped to handle the city’s population of drivers
3) Traffic congestion in the downtown core is at an all-time high
Expanding Billy Bishop airport would cloud these three problems above, and draw attention away from them.
How many other world-class cities don’t have a public transport link from the airport to the downtown core? Why don’t we have a subway that reaches Pearson? Toronto’s residents have been talking about this since before I was born, and yet nothing has been done.
To allow jet aircrafts to depart and arrive to and from Billy Bishop airport would really just move some of the passengers from Pearson down to Toronto’s downtown waterfront, and not really address the problem that Pearson is inaccessible.
What’s worse, is that with bigger plans, more flights, and more passengers, there would be more cabs, more pick-ups, and more traffic at Bathurst & Queen’s Quay. And, I mean, it’s not like traffic is moving at a steady pace down there – what with the construction on the roads, and the one-way traffic heading east…
New York has two airports – JFK and LaGuardia, both more or less in Queen’s (Jamaica for JFK, if you want to get really specific), and no more than 8-10KM apart. But they have an intense series of freeways, a dynamite subway system, and their taxi-cab system is world famous. As an aside, the series of one-way streets that you find in Manhattan, for example, helps to speed traffic flow, and reduce congestion.
Chicago’s smaller Midway International Airport is about 15-20KM from Chicago O’Hare, but do you think that either of these airports is inaccessible by streetcar, bus, or subway like Toronto’s Pearson?
As much as I love this city, I look out my window every day, and see that nothing is being done to move the city forward. Condominium construction is out of control, and no new roads, freeways, bus stops, subway routes, or hot dog stands are being built in tandem to help support the massive amount of people moving into the downtown core each and every year.
I don’t know who to trust in this debate. I never liked David Miller as a mayor, but he’s an opponent of the airport expansion, and I agree with most of what he says.
Then there’s the councilors that are in favor of the expansion, and I have to listen to crap like this from Denzil Minnan-Wong:
“David Miller thought the island airport was going to be the end of the world eight or 10 years ago and we’ve seen nothing but huge development there — thousands and thousands of people wanting to live there,” he said. “Mr. Miller clearly has a credibility problem in terms of what he said would happen and what has happened.”
It’s like this guy has never actually been downtown, but rather he’s seen photos of it, and read about it in the newspaper.
If by “thousands and thousands of people want to live there,” Mr. Minnan-Wong really means, “Investors from Asia & the Middle East have bought up crappy condos down there by the thousands, and renters in search of cheap rent, figuring, ‘I’m only going to be there a year, so who cares if I live in an awful area,’ have rented there in droves,” then I suppose he is correct.
I realize I haven’t even touched on the environmental issues with respect to increased flights and size of the aircrafts, nor have I talked about the noise. That’s a whole other argument, but I feel that the issues I take to heart are enough on their own to say “no.”
Band-aids are not permanent; we learned this as children.
They may be the same color as our skin, and blend in to the point where they’re not noticeable from afar, but the result is always the same: they always peel off, and they always reveal the wound underneath.
Expanding the island airport is nothing more than a convenience to a handful of people, and I believe that it will could the real issues plaguing our city, and actually serve to hold back the city’s progress and expansion of infrastructure, which is the last thing we Torontonians can afford right now…