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No airport the healthiest option: Toronto board of health

Dec. 10, 2013, Toronto - Toronto’s board of health wants city council to reject Porter Airlines’ bid to fly jets at the island airport for health reasons.


December 10, 2013
By The National Post

In a unanimous Monday vote, the board also endorsed a report by Dr.
David McKeown, the Medical Officer of Health, who said he is more
concerned about the existence of the airport, period, versus the
proposed expansion.

 

“The expansion will add to the health impact, but there is a
substantial health impact of the airport in its current form that I
think should be addressed in some way,” he said, after telling the
board: “No airport is the healthiest option.”

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The recommendation to reject expansion will go to city council early
in the new year, alongside whatever comes of an executive committee
debate on the same issue.

 

Porter is seeking the city’s permission to fly Bombardier CS100 planes and to extend a main runway at the airport.

A Health Impact Assessment of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
looked at three scenarios: existing conditions without the airport;
maximum existing operations (of 3.8-million a year passengers versus the
2.3-million that used it in 2012); and a future scenario in which a
quarter of turboprop planes are replaced by jets.

 

Modelling found that in its current form, the operation adds to
“background air pollution levels” that already exceed health benchmarks.
More specifically, the report says the airport and related traffic
contributes 10 to 15% of air pollution close to the airport, with the
rest coming from non-airport traffic, small industrial and commercial
sources, home furnaces and air pollution from other parts of Ontario and
the U.S. Of the list of carcinogens measured by the assessment, nine
“likely” came from the airport, it stated.

 

“Combined, emissions of these pollutants from BBTCA are predicted to
increase the lifetime cancer risk at locations near the airport,” the
report states.

 

Allowing jets to fly in and out of the airport would result in “minor
changes” to air pollution concentrations, which would result in
“negligible changes for cancer-related health risk and increases the
risk of premature mortality from the common air contaminants in areas
closest to the airport,” the report added.

 

It found noise conditions may actually improve, because the jets are
expected to be quieter than the turboprops that Porter uses.

 

Porter president Robert Deluce was at city hall on Monday but did not
appear before the health board. In an email, Brad Cicero, a Porter
spokesman, claimed CS100 emissions are less than the Q400 turboprop’s,
and that the new planes are “not expected to increase health-care costs
related to noise and air impacts.”