No free speech at Porter Air boss’ speech

CAIR volunteer forcibly removed from Royal York for leafleting a public meeting

By Brian Iler –

Island Airport Noise and Pollution: Destroying Toronto’s Waterfront

Island Airport Noise and Pollution:
Destroying Toronto’s Waterfront

As opponents of the continuing expansion of the Island airport, CommunityAIR members and I as chair of the organization leafleted Porter Airlines CEO Robert Deluce’s speech at the Empire Club Jan.17.

We thought it important that attendees get a more complete understanding of the impact Island Airport expansion has had on our Waterfront and its residents than they would get from Mr. Deluce.” said Brian Iler, Chair of CommunityAIR. Porter Airlines. “The noise, pollution and traffic congestion increase daily.”

While the group was handing out leaflets in the Royal York Hotel to those coming to hear Deluce, two security guards appeared and forcibly evicted one of the CommunityAIR volunteers – for leafleting.

This was a public meeting—even I had received notice of it. I would have thought that the Empire Club and the hotel would be more respectful of free speech.

Below is the text of the flyer:

Island Airport Noise and Pollution:

Destroying Toronto’s Waterfront

Toronto’s waterfront is our city’s jewel with over 15 million visitors each year. Governments are spending millions to make it even more beautiful. When Waterfront Toronto’s current redevelopment projects are completed, about 100,000 people will live and work on the waterfront.

Yet what do visitors to our waterfront find? An increasingly noisy, polluting airport that conflicts with every other use of our waterfront.

Noise from planes at the Island Airport is a constant and vexing presence from early morning until late at night for all Waterfront recreational users and residents, but particularly for the daily lives of Bathurst Quay residents. Traffic congestion, illegal parking and idling vehicles choke this residential neighbourhood.

Constraints Unenforced

Waterfront residents were given legally binding assurances that:

·       Only short-take-off-and-landing (STOL) aircraft are permitted for commercial flights from the Island Airport. Q400 aircraft (flown by Porter and Air Canada from the Island Airport) are not STOL.

·       Aircraft breaching an objective definition of “excessive noise” are prohibited. Q400 aircraft breach that prohibition.

The Federal Government and its Port Authority refuse to enforce those noise constraints.

“Living” with the Island airport
Residents have lodged many many complaints. Rather than addressing them, the Port Authority now even refuses to publicly post them and their “responses”. These are typical:
·    “Loud engine noise prior to 6:45am, loud sustained noise straddling 7:18am and 8:34am”
Response: “Airport Security was unable to identify any unusual noises at times noted in comment”
·       “Really loud engine noise at 6:45am. Again loud at 21:13 and 21:25”
Response: “Normal operations”

·       “Excessive airplane noise. I can’t put my child to sleep with that kind of noise!”
Response: “We were unable to identify the cause of the noise noted”

·    “Continuous excessively loud engine noise, primarily of airplanes idling, also taxiing, take-off and landings for over half an hour”
Response: “Although there were several landings and take-offs, there were no unusual airport activities during time noted”
The “Gravy Plane”
The federal government has been far too generous to the Island Airport. It has:

·       paid $35 Million in dubious “compensation” for the cancelling of the bridge(of which Porter received $20 million)

·       given Porter virtually exclusive use (186 of 202 “slots”) of 215 acres of prime waterfront land

·       purchased two ferries, and terminals, for another $20 million

·       provided in excess of $488 million, long term, low interest financing (4.92% weighted average) for most of Porter’s aircraft

·       allowed the Port Authority to fall $45 million into arrears on its City tax bill

·       legalized the Port Authority’s contemplated pedestrian tunnel – to cost more than $45 million – that facilitates even more Island Airport expansion.

The “gravy plane” has to stop.