New Independent Federal Dispute Advisory Panel Requested for Billy Bishop Airport Payment in Lieu of Taxes

Toronto, Ontario (July 3, 2013) – The Toronto Port Authority (“TPA”) has formally requested that the Federal Government convene a new Dispute Advisory Panel (“DAP”) to consider the amount of Payment-In-Lieu of Taxes (PILT) that Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (“BBTCA”) pays to the City of Toronto (“the City”).   The independent DAP will advise the TPA and the City on the quantum of PILT that is appropriate for the BBTCA to pay.

On April 3, 2013, after more than two years of consideration and negotiation, City of Toronto staff recommended to City Council that it accept a payment of $0.94 cents per passenger PILT for BBTCA. The figure is the same amount paid by Pearson International Airport to its host municipalities and exceeds the $0.80 per passenger fee that was recommended to the City and the TPA by a 2009-vintage DAP. City Council rejected the staff recommendation, without giving direction to City Staff as to what figure it would accept. In the wake of Council’s refusal to provide its Staff with guidance on the matter, the TPA advised that if, after 90 days, Council did not accept the advice of its own Solicitor and Treasurer on the recommended BBTCA PILT, it would consider requesting a new DAP. Today, we have proceeded to make that request.

"The Toronto Port Authority has always been willing to pay its fair share of taxes. To date we’ve paid 100% of the PILT recommended by the 2009 DAP for BBTCA, and we offered to pay the higher Pearson Airport level in an effort to resolve this issue once and for all.” said Toronto Port Authority spokeswoman, Pamela McDonald. “But we don’t think it’s fair to ask our passengers to pay one penny more in tax to the City than they pay when they fly from Pearson. Despite what some would have you believe, it is passengers who pay airport PILTs and not the Federal government.”

Further, the TPA agrees with City staff, who have publicly said that MPAC, the municipal property assessor, has assessed BBTCA property “based on what we (the City) feel were erroneously high assessment values”.[i] City Staff advised Council on May 7th that if they had to dispute those values at another DAP panel, they “would anticipate that they would be lowered substantially. Even then, City Staff received no direction as to what airport PILT City Council would accept from BBTCA passengers.”[ii]

MPAC has suggested to the City that BBTCA property be taxed as if it was an industrial site with land values heavily influenced by condo values.  Some City Councillors agree with the high MPAC assessment, even though they would never support the idea of putting an industrial development on the BBTCA site. BBTCA is an airport, not an industrial site and certainly not a condominium site and, therefore, should not be taxed like one.


The proposed per-passenger PILT approach is widely used at other airports in Ontario:  Pearson, London, Ottawa and Thunder Bay.  

For years, MPAC, the municipal property assessor, has assessed the BBTCA as Industrial land.   MPAC included in its analysis the notion that the airport property could be a high rise condo development site, despite the fact that the land is zoned as parkland in the City's Official Plan, and has been an airport since 1939.  The BBTCA is currently governed by the Tripartite Agreement (executed by each of the City of Toronto, the Department of Transport and the TPA).  The Tripartite Agreement outlines that the property is to be used as an airport, and only an airport, from 1983 - 2033.  As such, no condominiums, power generating stations or manufacturing plants could be built on the site.  This has not stopped MPAC from trying to assess the airport at the industrial development rate, which is the source of the so-called "$26 million tax arrears bill" reported in the media.

No one in Toronto, whether they are a fan or foe of the airport, thinks the BBTCA property should be an automotive plant, power plant or high rise condo development.  Why then should it be taxed that way by MPAC?  

According to a 2012 survey conducted by Ipsos Reid (a representative, randomly-selected sample of 700 adults living in Toronto, included 300 who live downtown, South of Queen Street.):

  • Eight in ten (83%) of those surveyed ‘agree' that Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA) ‘is great for the economy of Toronto' – including 85 per cent of those living downtown south of Queen.

  • 84% believe the airport is a great gateway, with the majority (87 per cent) saying it is a valuable asset for the city.

  • Eight in ten (81%) Toronto residents ‘agree' that ‘Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is an important part of Toronto's future economic growth'

  • 87% ‘agree' that BBTCA is ‘a valuable asset for the city'

  • Nearly half of all downtown residents (50% cent north of Queen; 45% south of Queen) have used BBTCA

  • Nine in ten (89%) Torontonians ‘agree' that ‘the Toronto Port Authority provides important economic benefits to the City of Toronto'

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is proud to have become a valued contributor to our city. According to a recent Economic Impact study, the airport will contribute $1.9 billion in annual economic output and 5,700 jobs to the Greater Toronto Area economy. 

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About the Toronto Port Authority 

The Toronto Port Authority (TPA) owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, the Port of Toronto (Terminals 51 and 52), and Toronto's Outer Harbour Marina. In addition to moving more than two million passengers through the airport in 2012, the Port Authority provides transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses at the Port, and owns and operates Toronto's largest freshwater marina. The Toronto Port Authority was incorporated on June 8, 1999 as a government business enterprise under the Canada Marine Act as the successor to the Toronto Harbour Commissioners. 

For more information on how BBTCA is contributing to Toronto, visit

Media Contact:
Pamela McDonald, Director, Communications and Public Affairs (416) 863-2028 or (647) 405-8185 (mobile),


[i] City Council Meeting, Tuesday, May 7, 2013 Item: EX31.27
[ii] City Council Meeting, Tuesday, May 7, 2013 Item: EX31.27