Porter Airlines is spreading its wings online, urging Torontonians to contact their local councillors and demand more flight options at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
Almost 35,000 people have already signed up at porterplans.com, which gives citizens a direct line to the councillors in their respective wards.
“You’re asking for more destinations. We’re asking for your help,” the website states.
A link titled Take Action directs you to your councillor via your postal code and even provides a letter template.
Those who live outside of Toronto are directed to the deputy mayor.
Porter says 34,759 have already filled out the form and the website features supportive quotes from notable public figures like former Leafs legend Doug Gilmour and Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey.
“There are two things that Toronto deserves – approval of the Porter Airlines plan, and a Stanley Cup!” Gilmour’s quote reads.
While launching the city’s annual toy drive on Tuesday, Mayor Rob Ford reiterated his support for Porter’s plan.
“We have to move ahead with this airport expansion,” Ford said. “I want to move ahead.”
Porter has been seeking permission from the city to fly jets out of the island airport after signing a $2.08-billion deal with Bombardier in April to buy up to 30 CS100 airliners.
It also needs city permission to extend its runway by 200 metres on each end.
During a subcommittee meeting on Tuesday, several Harbourfront and Toronto Island residents spoke out against the airport’s expansion.
Brenda Roman, who lives 360 meters from the Island Airport, said other residents in her building have resorted to sleeping in storage rooms because of the noise from the airport.
“People are moving their beds from their bedrooms into our internal storage rooms which are unheated and unventilated because they can’t sleep in their bedrooms which overlook the airport,” she explained.
Coun. Adam Vaughan, who has been adamantly opposed to pushing ahead with the airport expansion, supported the concerns of area residents.
“This issue continues to confound me,” he said. “It’s not about an airline expansion, it’s an airport expansion.”
Vaughan has stated that he believes the project should be put on hold until environmental assessments and exact costs have been presented to the city.
He added that he believes the city is gambling too much of the city’s money on Porter.
“If this airline fails, and airlines fails with alarming success, half a billion dollar investment goes with it,” he said.
Vaughan added that he couldn’t understand why the Port Authority was letting Porter call the shots on the expansion, saying it’s like “Toyota telling the Gardiner what to do.”
If the plans are approved, Porter would fly to new destinations like Vancouver, California, Florida and the Caribbean.
But under a tripartite agreement with the municipal, provincial and federal governments, jets are prohibited at the island airport.
Currently, Porter uses Bombardier’s Q400 turboprops to carry passengers to such nearby destinations as Montreal, Ottawa, New York and Washington, D.C.
On the website, Porter addresses environmental and noise concerns, saying the new aircraft “is the quietest commercial jet in production. It’s greener, too, consuming half the fuel per passenger than that used by most modern compact cars.”
But Toronto city staff released a report last Thursday recommending that council delay a decision until March 2015, saying there are still too many unanswered questions surrounding the plan.
The executive committee is considering that request on Thursday.
Would you support the Porter Airlines expansion? Share your thoughts in the comments.