Billy Bishop Airport to Convert Marilyn Bell I Airport Ferry to Electric-Power

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Toronto (November 28, 2019) 
— PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, is proud to announce that the airport’s Marilyn Bell I passenger/vehicle ferry will be converted to electric-power. This innovative retrofit represents a unique technological advancement in the airport’s fleet as the vessel will be the first 100 per cent electric lithium-ion powered ferry in service in Canada. PortsToronto anticipates that the ferry’s retrofit will be complete by the end of 2020.

PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, announced that the airport’s Marilyn Bell I ferry will be converted to electric-power, eliminating all related GHG emissions and significantly reducing noise impacts.

The vessel’s propulsion system will be entirely powered by battery and fueled by 100 per cent Bullfrog Power® renewable electricity, enabling the electric-ferry to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the airport’s ferry operation. In addition to operating more efficiently and eliminating related air emissions, the retrofitted vessel will build on the airport’s award-winning Noise Management Program, as it will operate far more quietly, dramatically reducing related noise in the surrounding community.
As part of PortsToronto’s sustainability program, a phased approach to greening the airport’s ferry operations began in 2018 when the Marilyn Bell I was converted from diesel to bio-fuel, which resulted in the reduction of approximately 20 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions last year. The electric-powered ferry is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with ferry operations by 530 tonnes, dramatically reducing the airport’s carbon footprint and setting the organization on a clear path toward achieving PortsToronto’s overall emissions target.
“The retrofitting of the Marilyn Bell I to electric power clearly demonstrates how we can build a clean and efficient transportation system, create good jobs and protect the environment,” said the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport. “The Government of Canada commends PortsToronto for this initiative that will benefit Toronto communities and reduce our carbon footprint.”
“Converting the Billy Bishop Airport ferry to electric power is a clear indication of how serious we are in our commitment to the environment and maintaining balanced operations with the waterfront community in which we operate,” said Geoffrey Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, PortsToronto. “We are proud to invest in leading-edge, sustainable transportation infrastructure that will reduce PortsToronto’s overall emissions, which is a significant step toward our organization’s environmental objectives and in support of the Canadian Government’s 2030 emission reduction target.”
In compliance with PortsToronto’s Sustainable Procurement Policy, three Canadian companies that share PortsToronto’s vision for sustainable operations have been selected to collaborate on completing the ferry retrofit. As developers of the winning concept and proposal, St. Catharines-based leaders in marine electrical engineering Canal Marine & Industrial Inc. (CANAL) are the prime designers for this project. On board as the project naval architect is Concept Naval, Quebec-based naval architects and marine engineers, recognized for their innovative and customized solutions in Canada's shipbuilding industry. PortsToronto has also engaged Nova Scotia-based E.Y.E marine consultants to assist with the implementation of the project.
“CANAL is proud to be delivering the first completely zero-emission Ro-Pax ferry in Canada,” said Shawn Balding, CANAL Commercial Director. “This is an important step in the evolution of the marine industry made possible by maturing advancements in energy storage and power and propulsion system design.”
The airport’s ferry operation not only transports passengers, airport staff and essential supplies to and from Billy Bishop Airport, but serves as a vital link for City of Toronto service vehicles to gain access to the Toronto Islands. The conversion of the airport ferry to electric-power is one of Billy Bishop Airport’s key capital projects and will cost approximately $2.9 million. This cost will be paid in full by PortsToronto through the Airport Improvement Fee. PortsToronto is a federal business enterprise that is financially self-sufficient and does not receive funding from any level of government.
The Marilyn Bell I is named for the Canadian icon who was the first person to cross Lake
Ontario, and later the English Channel and Strait of Juan de Fuca.
April 22, 2020: Please note the original target date to complete the conversion of the Marilyn Bell ferry has been delayed to 2021 due to work stoppages related to the provincial COVID-19 response plan and efforts to restrict group activities deemed non-essential. Delays are also related in part to the economic impact that COVID-19 has had on Billy Bishop Airport and the significant reduction in Airport Improvement Fees specific to the temporary suspension of all commercial airline services.

About Canal Marine & Industrial Inc. (CANAL)
Since 1973 Canal Marine & Industrial Inc. (CANAL) has been a provider of electrical engineering and installations with a 24/7 service arm for troubleshooting, maintenance and repair services. Canal provides services to government, industrial, commercial and marine clients in Canada from its headquarters at the hub of the Great Lakes Region in St. Catharines, Ontario.  More recently, CANAL’s engineering team has developed and delivered marine Hybrid power solutions to the workboat market.  From that experience, CANAL has commercialized applications like a battery-less Hybrid Propulsion system and the Adaptive Electronic Generator.
About Concept Naval
As naval architects and marine engineers, Concept Naval offer innovative and customized solutions to ship operators and shipyards since 1987. Continually expanding, Concept Naval are now recognized as a key player in eastern Canada's shipbuilding industry. Concept Naval’s solid reputation is the result of more than 500 successful design and construction projects on a variety of vessels.
About E.Y.E.
E.Y.E. Marine Consultants is a firm of Professional Naval Architects and Marine Engineers located in Bedford, Nova Scotia. E.Y.E has an established tradition of quality, innovative, and successful projects and provide a wide range of consulting services to their clients, including complete new designs, redesigns and modifications, feasibility studies, lofting, drafting, 3D modeling/FEA, stability and tonnage analysis.
About Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (
Offering service to more than 20 cities in Canada and the U.S., with connection opportunities to more than 80 international destinations via our airlines’ networks, Billy Bishop Airport is an important international gateway and a key driver to Toronto’s economy, generating more than $470 million in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year and supporting 4,740 jobs, including 2,080 directly associated with the airport operations. Billy Bishop Airport is renowned for its unique travel experience, efficiency and customer service and has won a series of passenger-driven awards, including being named one of the top airports in North America in both the Airports Council International’s (ACI) Airport Service Quality Awards and Skytrax World Airport Awards. Billy Bishop Airport was also ranked as the fourth Best International Airport by Condé Nast Traveler in 2017.

About PortsToronto (
PortsToronto is a federal government business enterprise mandated to provide critical infrastructure and operating expertise on a financially self-sustaining basis. PortsToronto owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which welcomed 2.8 million passengers in 2018; the Outer Harbour Marina, one of Canada's largest freshwater marinas; and, Marine Terminal 52, which provides transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses at the Port of Toronto. PortsToronto is committed to fostering strong, healthy and sustainable communities and has invested more than $11 million since 2009 in charitable initiatives and environmental programs that benefit communities along Toronto's waterfront and beyond.

Media Contact:
Sarah Sutton
Manager, Communications and Government Relations
Cell: (647) 298-0544