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Toronto Port Authority seeks $100M for island airport congestion

The owner of Toronto’s island airport is asking Ottawa for $100 million to pay for infrastructure to handle the extra traffic that would come if jets are allowed.

The Toronto Port Authority (TPA) said it needs the funds to improve access to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and manage the congestion expected if Porter Airlines is granted its request to fly jets there.

“Our city partners have said that improving the existing groundside infrastructure is a key component in any eventual approval of the proposal to bring … jets to Billy Bishop,” TPA chairman Mark McQueen said in a statement.

“The cost of the proposed runway extension, when combined with the airport’s ongoing capital expenditure needs, is expected to consume the TPA’s remaining available borrowing capacity. As such, it was necessary to apply for funding.”

But in a report last November, city staff said the cost of accommodating the influx of passengers would be $180-$300 million.

That money could pay for everything from new transit, tunnels and bridges to filling in Lake Ontario to extend Dan Leckie Way.

“The public realm impacts of these solutions are significant and their introduction may lead to a new set of problems given the Official Plan goals to build an exemplary public realm,” the report said.

A citizens’ group opposed to the jets said the TPA is doing Porter’s “dirty work.”

“This rogue agency wants to use other people’s money — our tax dollars — to pay for their mini-Pearson,” NoJetsTO chair Anshul Kapoor said.

“It’s corporate welfare for the TPA and Porter. Hopefully councillors realize that.”

The city will hold a meeting on Monday to get feedback from the public, and the TPA will be there.

Should government funds be used to accommodate jets at the island airport? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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