Porter belongs at Pearson Airport

There’s no question the Island airport has long been an anachronism in its current incarnation as an elegant monopoly by a single taxpayer-supported passenger service. Toronto has endured the blight of increased commercial air traffic amidst a residential- and tourism-oriented waterfront, perhaps dangerously close to the skyscraper commercial towers of Downtown.

Outdoor concerts on the harbourfront have been rendered impractical by the noise of a rapidly expanding air operation. The growing residential community is assaulted by the noise and traffic generated by a busy air operation within its park.

Aggressive marketing by Porter Airlines has been augmented by the slavish obeisance of the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), which by all rights shouldn’t even exist. It has failed in its years of existence to comply with the federal rules for a port authority, particularly in the aspect of making a profit.

This year, for the first time, TPA has shown a positive bottom line due solely to the increased traffic of the airport. It’s as if Porter is the only reason for TPA to exist, Insofar as a real port operation is concerned, TPA remains a costly taxpayer liability. Advocates tout the success of Porter as a boon to Downtown businesses. It’s not.

Passengers mainly move from their cabs or limos right to the airport without spending any money elsewhere. Hotels might gain a bit of business, but they would gain even more by a rapid rail link from Downtown to Pearson Airport.

Political and business elites are the beneficiaries of this great boondoggle that was imposed upon Toronto by former Liberal MP Dennis Mills. True, there are now many non-elite users attracted by a first-rate operation conducted by Porter, but that only means it should do well in competition at Pearson Airport, which is the only facility that should serve the GTA.

This monopolist duplication is an offence to all taxpayers who support the publicly funded TPA operation. The latest gambit by the Tory-stacked group is to blow $38 million to tunnel passengers from Porter’s mainland customs facility to the runways.

That would be $38 million that the city won’t get from the Harper regime’s stimulus cash which should instead be applied to funding of the rapid rail link to Pearson—where Porter should be operating.