Prime Minister kicks off Toronto Island airport tunnel build
March 9, 2012, Toronto - Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday a new pedestrian tunnel to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is an "important new gateway between the airport and downtown Toronto."
Harper appeared along with Mayor Rob Ford to mark the official start of the project, which will eliminate the need for the short ferry ride that connects Toronto's downtown with the increasingly busy island airport.
“Toronto is a world-class city and airports in world class cities must provide world-class service," he said in announcing regulatory changes to help clear the way for construction.
"As much as we all like the ferries, and I have all kinds of great memories riding them as a boy, lining up for one when you are rushing for a plane does not qualify as world class.”
Harper also said the project, which is slated to take two years to complete and cost $60 million, will be built entirely with private money so "it won't cost taxpayers a dime."
Ford said the 240-metre tunnel will be a “new and amazing gateway to Toronto."
Passengers going into the tunnel from downtown will enter through a pavilion, and head down through elevators.
A fixed link to the airport has been a contentious issue for almost a decade. Council under former mayor David Miller scuttled plans to construct a bridge to the island in 2003.
Community groups have also voiced their criticism of the link, questioning whether the tunnel is needed at all.
Proponents say it will save time at an airport that deals with more than 1.5 million passengers annually.