Island airport noise still intolerable: CommunityAIR

Brian Iler

In a news release Ports Toronto attempts to paint a rosy picture of its efforts to reduce Island airport noise.

The reality is far different.

From massive noise interference with the Harbourfront Music Garden’s performances to lost sleep by Bathurst Quay residents, Island airport noise remains a persistent issue for our waterfront.

The only change is that residents and waterfront visitors, from experience, find complaining to Ports Toronto a futile exercise – its most common response to a complaint is “normal airport operations.”

That airport is a legacy heavy industrial use, completely out of step with the dominant recreational and residential character of our waterfront today. Ports Toronto has always ignored community complaints, while pampering its near‑monopoly tenant, Porter Airlines.

Here’s how Tamara Bernstein, the organizer of the Music Garden concerts, describes the problem:

“When the waterfront is downwind from the airport—which happens frequently, in summer—the noise of airplanes landing, taxiing, idling and taking off can overwhelm conversation in the Music Garden and its environs.

“This noise was an occasional, fairly predictable irritation in the early years of this millennium, when Air Canada was running a small number of noisy turboprops out of the Island Airport.

“But with Porter’s arrival, and the dramatic expansion of operations at the Toronto Island Airport, the situation deteriorated dramatically, due to the ever-growing number of flights, and prolonged periods of idling by airplanes sitting on the runway.

“We have had to add a third set of speakers at the Music Garden to compete with it. Even so, every concert day I wonder whether and how badly the airport will impact our concerts.”

Max Moore, a Bathurst Quay resident, says this:

“I hear loud airport noise, from around 6 a.m. until nearly midnight every day. It is unbearably loud through open windows. The only way to live with this airport is to close all the doors and windows, and live in an air conditioned world. But air conditioning isn’t as healthy as natural air. Living by this airport forces us to live a second rate life, by making us close our windows all summer.

“The problem is that even when we close all the windows and doors, we can still hear engine run-ups inside our homes. That’s how loud engine run-ups are. We are under constant attack from a giant noise machine called Toronto Island Airport. So much for a constitutional right of quiet enjoyment of our homes.

“Not only are we awakened around 6 a.m. every day, but a louder noise roars until 11 p.m. every night. And after a grand finale of engine run noise at 11 p.m. we’re awakened through the night by medivac helicopters that can legally fly all night.”

Brian Iler is Chair of CommunityAIR