Agreement Will Be “Win-Win” for City and Airport Users
The Toronto Port Authority’s (TPA) Board of Directors has given the green light to an agreement going before City of Toronto Council this week, that would see the TPA’s proposed pedestrian tunnel to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport accommodate the City’s own infrastructure upgrade to water mains to the Toronto Islands. The TPA first proposed a combination of the two projects to former Mayor Miller in June 2009.
“The agreement tabled allows for a straight-line route for our proposed pedestrian tunnel, which is more convenient for mobility-impaired passengers and will save travellers $2.5 million in unnecessary construction costs,” TPA Board Chairman Mark McQueen said. “By joining our project, the City estimates that it will save taxpayers $10 million on its own Island watermain and sewage project, and avoid duplication of costly and disruptive construction work in downtown Toronto.”
The City was planning a major infrastructure project under the Western Channel, that would parallel the TPA’s proposed pedestrian tunnel. Recognizing the pressing budget pressures faced by the City, the Toronto Port Authority has waived 100 per cent of the standard commercial fees charged for such carriage, which represents more than $5 million of additional savings to the City over the next 20 years.
The wide-ranging agreement also includes provisions to improve traffic management on Eireann Quay, relocate the old terminal building for future use, and wrap up the ongoing negotiations regarding payments-in-lieu-of taxes (PILTs).
The TPA announced last year that it was considering the construction of a pedestrian tunnel to the airport under a Public-Private Partnership model, to improve reliability of access and maintain a high standard of customer service to the passengers who travel through Billy Bishop Airport. In 2010, 1.2 million passengers used the airport, a 47 per cent increase over 2009. In 2011, the TPA estimates another significant increase in passenger traffic to 1.5 million, or 33 per cent.
A draft federal regulation to expressly allow the construction of a pedestrian tunnel was gazetted in Ottawa on July 2, 2011.
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