Councillor McMahon on the Expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

Councillor McMahon does not support extending the runway at Billy Bishop Airport.

The vision for Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has always been a local airport to handle short flights with small propeller planes. The tripartite agreement between the City of Toronto, Toronto Port Authority and the Federal Government solidified this conception into a public agreement which was signed by all parties.

Porter Airlines revealed, with no advance notice that it planned to purchase jets which require an 1102 feet (336 metre) runway extension at the Billy Bishop Airport. The runway extension required to accommodate Porter Airlines’ request represents a major change to the physical environment and auditory impact of the Island Airport, which is a violation of the spirit of the tripartite agreement.

Councillor McMahon encourages Porter Airlines to use Pearson Airport as its base for medium/long haul flights as every other airline wishing to land in Toronto does. She cannot support turning a small local airport into a second major air traffic hub.

Thank you.


  1. Magdalena Waszul says:

    Thank you for this statement. Please don’t let Robert Deluce and his company destroy our waterfront. Please!

    • Edward Birnbaum says:

      Hi Ms. Waszul,

      Thank you for your email. As a long-time environmentalist, Councillor McMahon is committed to preserving our waterfront.

      Edward Birnbaum
      Executive Assistant
      Office of Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon
      Ward 32, Beaches-East York
      Toronto City Hall
      100 Queen Street West, Suite B28
      Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

  2. Wendy F says:

    Thank you for helping to make Toronto’s Waterfront a “Jet-Free-Zone” for everyone’s enjoyment. For many of us, who do not have access to cottages during the blistering heat of the summer, Toronto Islands is a paradise of boardwalks, fountains, the zoo, parkland, bicycle paths, gardens, splash pads, sandy beaches — even a quaint little village. Jets will change the landscape forever and seriously compromise my continued enjoyment of this perfect gem on Toronto’s Waterfront.

    • Edward Birnbaum says:

      Hi Wendy,
      Thank you for commenting. Councillor McMahon believes that Toronto’s waterfront should be protected and the island airport should remain small and convenient, not a second Pearson International.

      Edward Birnbaum
      Executive Assistant
      Office of Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon
      Ward 32, Beaches-East York
      Toronto City Hall
      100 Queen Street West, Suite B28
      Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

      • Fraser McDonald says:

        What nonsense! There is absolutely no basis for suggesting that allowing jets at Billy Bishop Airport will turn it into a sceond Pearson. This is reminscent of Councillor Vaughan’s ridiculous assertion that extending the runway would amount to “paving the lake”. Allowing jets does nothing to change the facts that there is only one runway that will accomodate these planes and that the extension to allow jets will not increase the number of take-off or landing slots. Furthermore, the jets must meet exisiting noise guidelnes. Allowing the proposed jets will neither change the nature of Billy Bishop Airport in the least or increase noise levels which are minimal as it now stands. Let’s get with the
        city building that Councillor McMahon likes to talk about.

        • Bill Andersen says:

          There is no need for jet traffic at Billy Bishop. Can you name any other major city in the world that has allowed a jet airport on its downtown waterfront? We won’t do it either.

          If Porter wants to expand into the jet business, Pearson is place for that. Otherwise, Porter can continue to offer its popular turboprop service from Billy Bishop.

        • M. Richardson says:

          Easy solution. Have Deluce/Porter pre-sign a Cease And Desist agreement that would would come into immediate effect should the current marine exclusion zones be increased in ANY way. The current talk is “in a material way”.

  3. Dr Avery Gillick says:

    Thank you for taking this stand. The public has been duped by Porter. What was to be a resolution of competing interests led to the tripartite agreement for Porter. This was done under the guise of allowing business access from and to the down town core. Now that Porter is dealing with declining passengers and flights leaving Billy Bishop are never full Deluce has seized on the concept of longer flights to Vancouver, SanF etc. More and more of the harbour will be restricted and in a few years there will be another push for further expansion. Why don’t we just pave in our precious harbour now and avoid this ongoing issue ?For historical perspective see

    • Edward Birnbaum says:

      Hi Dr. Gillick,
      Thank you for your email. Councillor McMahon agrees that the expanding Billy Bishop would be damaging to our environment.

      Edward Birnbaum
      Executive Assistant
      Office of Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon
      Ward 32, Beaches-East York
      Toronto City Hall
      100 Queen Street West, Suite B28
      Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

  4. James Burton says:

    I was always against Porter airlines.Give a millionaire money, and all he wants is more money.I am totally against any expansion of the Island airport by Porter airlines.There was never a deal that included the use of jets on our waterfront. James Burton

  5. Adrian Trembling says:

    Thank you for your opposition to the extension of the size and use of Billy Bishop airport. You can rest assured of unanimous, or near unanimous, support for this position from those living close to the lake.

    We have noticed what appear to be passenger plane flights over the Beach residential area in the last few days. This highlights the concerns that your constituents should have in respect to the airport. I suspect that we have, for the most part, been unsuspecting of possible developments of this type and may be in danger of waking up to the encroachment of flight paths far too late.

  6. Ron Tabata says:

    I challenge your statement that a runway expansion will transform the Island Airport to a Major hub. Extending an existing runway will not change the number of take off and landing spots there are in a day. It only varies the selection of destinations that can be accessed via those spots.

    I recommend you count the number of taxi’s and town cars that leave the Beaches neighborhood between 4am and 8am every Monday morning en route to Pearson. The round trip could be reduced by almost 80% if more of those travelers could be serviced from Billy Bishop, rather than commuting to Pearson.

    • Jon Neuert says:

      I’m afraid you are mistaken. The runway expansion plans estimate increases from 2 up to to 4 million travellers using billy bishop airport. This increase results from both expanded seating capacity per trip, but mostly from greater intensity of use of the runway and increased numbers of flights. The existing Q400 turboprop seats ninety people , while the proposed cs100 jet seats 110. Obviously this means way more flights coming and going.

  7. Gwen Fogel says:

    I really appreciate that Councillor McMahon has spoken out against altering the Tripartite Agreement. This law was put in effect to protect the waterfront communities and encourage home development. The current situation at the Toronto Island Airport is already creating disturbance with noise to the waterfront communities. Already we have increased pollution, traffic problems near the airport, and increased bird strikes to birds at the nearby sanctuary and Leslie Spit. We need to protect our beautiful treasure that brings millions of visitors to the waterfront each year and joy to all the residents!

  8. Baye Hunter says:

    Thank you Councillor McMahon for taking a stand on this very important issue. Like the fight against casinos, this is an issue of defending our people and our communities. We need to take a stand to protect the environment and protect our communities from excessive unplanned traffic chaos, toxic airplane pollution, noise and corporate greed. Thank you also for standing up in City Hall and requesting that the Port Authority pay their taxes to the city before any consideration be taken of airport expansion.

  9. Pam Mazza says:

    Thank you, Councillor McMahon, for taking this position. For all of us who are in opposition to jets and runway expansion, it will be imperative that we join to beat this initiative. We need to be as vocal and visible as the successful NoCasino group.

  10. Max Moore says:

    I was very impressed at a City Council meeting when Councillor McMahon said there should be no special favours for the island airport until the Port Authority pays its city taxes. That’s really getting to the heart of the matter.

  11. Shirley Bush says:

    Although I am not in your ward, I have friends who are, and I also care passionately about our waterfront. Heavy commercial passenger traffic was never supposed to take place at the airport. I remember in the 80’s when there were private planes, flying schools and emergency flights and that was about all. It was pleasant to sit at noon (I worked in the Star building) and watch the flying lessons. No one complained. Please keep on vigorously supporting all denial of expansion and jets at Billy Bishop City Centre Airport! Thank you for your vigilance!

  12. Dennis Bryant says:

    Thanks for taking a stand for the greater community. Jane Jacobs was prescient in her understanding of what was going on at the Island Airport. She said the proposals at the time although not as drastic were a Trojan Horse. The Island Airport may have some use as a small local airport but to imagine the result of the trajectory that the TPA and Porter want to take it on will be one that will bring untold negativity to the harbour, parks and downtown residents. Another Pearson Airport in the wrong place would be so destructive. The hidden or related costs will negate any economic gains that another large airport would bring.

  13. Judi says:

    Thank you for your stance on this issue. Our neighbourhood is already subject to excessive noise pollution from the fly over noise of constant turbo props leaving and returning to the Billy Bishop Airport. Adding jets to this would be horrendous.

  14. Larry Distillio says:

    I have been observing some recent changes by Porter hat have me concerned as well. It appears that the lake is no longer the flight path of choice. This has become more noticeable as our windows are open and sitting outside on the patio. The planes are flying at low altitudes flying over the residential area of Balmy Beach. At times the noise is interruptive of conversations. It appears that the planes cut across from the lake at this point and head to Ottawa or Montreal. There also appears to be increased Jet traffic from YYZ..some even closer to midnight. Once again, flight path changes.

    Hubbard Blvd.

  15. Ken Wilson says:

    There is already too much aircraft noise from this airport when you consider how many people live near it.
    The claim in favour of jet aircraft is that they are of a new design that create less noise, but what does this mean:
    Less noise than older jet aircraft or less noise than the current propeller driven aircraft? The only comparison that matters is, how much noise, more or less, will be created compared the amount of noise currently created measured over a 24 hour period.

  16. Hershel Russell says:

    Thanks you for opposing the expansion of Billy Bishop Airport

  17. Brendon says:

    Biggest concern is the traffic and congestion at the foot of Bathurst. It is insane around there, partially due to construction, but even once it’s finished there’s no room for more cars, taxis, etc. This is a pedestrian-heavy ares, as it should be. A school is nearby. Accidents are waiting to happen. Porter has never addressed this major issue, because they have no answers. I like Porter and have flown from the Island a few times, but they should not be allowed to expand either the runways or the amount of people they can carry.

  18. Denis Morrice says:

    Agree with the Councillor’s position.

  19. Jane says:

    Come on! Porter has only conditionally agreed to buy the jets so I am not sure why the councillor thinks there was no advance warning. She makes it sound like Porter is bullishly buying these jets and not caring about what the bureaucrats think.

    The tripartite agreement was signed over 30 years. Just as you cannot compare apples to oranges, you cannot compare jets from the 70s to the ones built today. Why do councillors like this get in the way of progress and accessibility.

    When you talk about traffic congestion in the waterfront, where was this councillor when the whole waterfront was practically sold to a Hong Kong developer? Spadina – lakeshore is where all the traffic congestion is.

    This woman is definetly not getting my vote next time.

    “Fiscaly Conservative Environmentalist” – right!

    • JJ says:

      Bang on Jane!
      I am surprised that the Councillor has already decided how she will vote on the issue. There is still plenty more information to be introduced and discussed before a final decision is made.

    • Ron Jenkins says:

      The Tripartite Agreement is not out of date. On the contrary, it was written with this day in mind. Thank you Councillor McMahon.

  20. Jutta Thiel says:

    Thank you Councillor McMahon for your stance on this issue. I like flying Porter but love Toronto Island and our beautiful waterfront much more.

  21. Michael M says:

    Thanks for staying firm on this stance. I can’t believe the amount of money being spent by Porter to ram this through. While I believe it’s a waste of public money to re-examine this agreement (there’s nothing wrong with the current one), if it’s going to be done, it needs to be done properly.

  22. John Newton says:

    The main reason that flying on Porter is convenient is that there has been no high-speed link to Pearson–something that should have been completed decades ago. Porter is pushing to expand before it happens, but doubling the number of flights and switching to jets at the Island will ultimately be unnecessary and so should be stopped.
    It troubles me that DeLuce has such contempt for the planning process that he has ordered the jets and made the announcements already.

  23. Bill Andersen says:

    I agree completely with your position regarding expansion of runways and use of jets at Billy Bishop airport. If Porter got its way, other airlines would want the same privileges. Let’s keep Billy Bishop as a small, regional airport that connects the rest of Ontario to Toronto. If Porter wants to expand, that’s what Pearson is for.

  24. Gina says:

    Firstly I’ve been a Beach resident for almost 23 years and I disagree for a number of reasons.
    Noise: I am far as I’m concerned I am much more disturbed by the constant sound of sirens (day and night), clanging streetcars, thumping of trucks running over pot holes, rampant constrution/renovation noise etc…in our neighbourhood. To me it couldn’t be any worse…but it comes with being in an urban setting. Have actual noise tests for the proposed jets been conducted?
    Pollution: Seeing that at present we don’t have a direct way via public transportation to get to Pearson have you overlooked the amount of cars/taxis/buses going back and forth everyday to Pearson and the resulting negative impacts vis a vis traffic/pollution/fuel consumption/time?
    As for the waterfront being the people’s…don’t get me started…years ago Toronto council in it’s infinite wisdom sold out to developers and created that lovely barrier of condos between the people and the lake, that ship has sailed and an invalid argument.
    We need to keep this city moving forward.

    • Lisa says:

      What Gina said.

    • Fraser McDonald says:

      Well said Gina. As someone subjected to the noise of streetcars and speeding cars and motorcylces on Queen and who is on the beach at least twice a day with my dog, I can state unequivocally that the noise generated by Porter’s flights at their lowest point over the beach at Woodbine Beach is almost inaudible. And the jets will be subject to similar noise requirements. The Councillor should direct her energies towards ensuring that transit in the beach is reliable whuich would be quite a monumental undertaking.

  25. Peter says:

    I hope the Councillor’s views have changed since this was written almost a year ago. As a ward resident, a voter, a tax-payer, an environmentalist, a lover of our waterfront, a traveler, a supporter of the Canadian economy (both local, and distant), et cetera, et cetera, I am absolutely in favour of Porter’s plans. This would benefit the city, and to a lesser extent, the province and the country.

  26. Mike Mckenna says:

    This woman has LOST MY VOTE and her sheer ignorance and stupidity will cause the city of Toronto to lose potential business and potential tourism. I live right by the lake on the eastern approach path, and no impact has ever been noticed since Porter began operations. The only people opposing this are the crusty old people who oppose the noise of Jazz Fest, or any other activity that may cause they’re hearing aid to register a dull roar. Stop screwing this city and support Porter. You’ve lost my vote.

  27. Marc Bouchard says:

    I would like to hear concrete evidence from our councillor as to why the expansion of Billy Bishop is such a bad thing. Given how Ms. McMahon supports street cars instead of modern transportation, its not surprising that she is against modern progress. I am a user of the Island Airport and have been since the start of Porter Airlines. I am also on the flight path of the approach from the east. There is no noise and the convenience and economic savings created by Porter are second to none. NYC is served by 3 airports (two waterfront), LAX has 4 airports, London UK has 4 airports. If we are to remain one of the top ten cities in North America, we should start acting like one. Vote for progress at Billy Bishop airport.

  28. Sue Obata says:

    Thank you for taking a strong position on the Billy Bishop Airport.

    We have spent many years in planning, effort and money to upgrade our waterfront to take advantage of the wonderful asset it can be to our city.
    Consider that the high-speed rail service from downtown Toronto to Pearson will be completed in a year or two. Why not keep any increased flight service required in this area at Pearson Airport where it belongs.
    Consider that at least some portion of the cost of the ferry, and soon the tunnel, to Billy Bishop Airport has been at the expense of the taxpayer.
    Consider the increased traffic congestion city-side that will surely involve more taxpayers’ dollars to resolve.
    Consider the thousands and thousands of the city’s inhabitants who have no means of getting “out of the city” with their families during the summer months to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and who frequent the Toronto Islands. Consider how many people live in the waterfront area who will never use Porter Airlines. Why should the quality of life for these thousands and thousands of city inhabitants be compromised by having to endure increased noise and air pollution?
    I, like many others, believe this is just the tip of the iceberg; if this expansion is allowed to go forward, how long will it be before increased air traffic/passenger limits currently proposed will be on the table?
    It seems very evident to me that the person who will most benefit from this expansion is the private owner of Billy Bishop Airport, along with the small percentage of the city’s population who will ever have occasion to use that facility.

    I hope our city council will have some long-term vision; do the right thing for the city as a whole and the majority of its residents and just say “no”.

  29. Catherine Churchill Frank says:

    Please stand firm on this issue, councillor! I like Porter for short hauls, but am adamantly against having jets fly out of Billy Bishop Airport. It’s bad for the environment, the kids at the island school, the local neighbourhoods and ultimately all of Toronto. We don’t need the congestion, pollution and everything that “has” to come with progress in Toronto. Let’s plan intelligently, work on integrated travel solutions and not be bullied into a plan that will harm us.

  30. neil says:

    I am as thrilled as the next guy about having to travel from
    Pearson but we should not ruin the potential of a great waterfront because we find the current situation inconvenient.
    Keep up the good work Mary Margaret!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>