The Facts about the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

The Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA) has become a vital transportation link for Toronto travellers and visitors. In 2010, an estimated 1.2 million will use the airport to fly to everywhere from Sudbury and St. John’s to Chicago and Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Over the past 18 months, the Toronto Port Authority (TPA) has taken measures to address the impact of ambient noise from the airport with an extensive Noise Management Study conducted by Jacobs Consultancy. While this study was being carried out, the TPA asked several waterfront neighbourhood associations and two City Councillors to participate in the Noise Management Study Advisory Group to assist in considering recommendations based on the study’s findings that will mitigate the effect of ambient noise on the waterfront community.

The Noise Management Study was released in January, 2010. It is available here:

You can submit feedback to its findings and recommendations here:

The TPA is committed to providing factual and up-to-date information to Torontonians. The following facts accurately reflect the administration and operating procedures of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport:

Myth: Only Short Take Off and Landing (“STOL”) aircraft can use the BBTCA, according to the Tripartite Agreement.
Fact: Non-STOL aircraft can use the BBTCA, according to amendment of the Tripartite Agreement in 1985, provided they are approved by Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency. The Bombardier Q400 used by Porter Airlines at BBTCA is a Non-STOL aircraft and has received such approvals.
Furthermore, commercial jet aircraft are prohibited from using the BBTCA under the Tripartite Agreement (the agreement governing the operational parameters of the BBTCA signed by the TPA, federal government and the City of Toronto).

Myth: The BBTCA was never intended to be an active commercial airport.
Fact: The 1983 Tripartite Agreement sets out the rules, restrictions and protocols for aircraft activity and commercial service at BBTCA. Not only that, but the BBTCA hosted three different commercial carriers throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Myth: The Tripartite Agreement limits commercial slots at the BBTCA to a total of 97.
Fact: The Tripartite Agreement does not cap slots at a hard number. Instead, it employs a Noise Exposure Forecast (“NEF”) contour model to regulate the overall frequency of aircraft activity around the BBTCA. A map of this NEF perimeter is on Page III-8 of the Jacobs Consultancy noise management study.
According to the most recent data published in the Jacobs Consultancy noise management study, the pre-established NEF contours – considered to be the “cap” of maximum allowable flight activity -- have not been reached with the current traffic.
Based on the results of a capacity study, the TPA anticipates that between 42 and 92 additional slots can be made available to commercial air carriers without breaching the maximum NEF contour. These slots will be determined and allocated by a slot co-ordinator in accordance with International best practices through a careful and transparent process taking into account Tripartite Agreement restrictions, community impact, safety and noise emissions.

Myth: Taxpayers are funding the BBTCA’s operations, including a planned $900,000 investment in several new noise barriers.
Fact: This is absolutely false. BBTCA operations are funded through revenue received from operators and an Airport Improvement Fee paid for by passengers using the airport.
Furthermore, BBTCA actually generates revenue for two levels of government: Last year, the TPA paid approximately $6.2 million in Payments in Lieu of Taxes to the City of Toronto, and $612,000 in royalties to the federal government.

Myth: The airport is ruining the waterfront.
Fact: Three successive annual public opinion surveys show that Torontonians support the TPA in its efforts to improve the waterfront and initiatives to improve access to the BBTCA, including a proposed pedestrian tunnel.

The TPA is undertaking a wide array of initiatives to enhance the quality of the environment in the waterfront, not just at the BBTCA but throughout the harbour area. These include:

  • An agreement to purchase power from renewable sources through Bullfrog Power;
  • Investing $900,000 in sound barriers at the airport;
  • Investing $1 million to create protective islands and fish habitat wetlands at Tommy Thompson Park;
  • A transition to green lubricants on TPA machinery, vessels and vehicles;
  • Aggressive enforcement of anti-idling rules for vehicles using TPA facilities;
  • Encouraging the use of shuttle buses and public transit to and from the airport;
  • Altering approach protocols for aircraft landing at the airport to burn less fuel.

The TPA is looking forward to enhancing our waterfront around BBTCA with the help and input of a permanent advisory committee made up of community members and other stakeholders.

Myth: Curfew violations (aircraft landing after 11 p.m.) are common and the TPA is doing nothing about it.
Fact: Curfew violations are extremely rare. In December, the TPA issued a tougher Airport Directive requiring commercial operators to pay a fine of $10,000 per occurrence for landing after 11 p.m., and $1,000 for individual operators landing after 11 p.m.

Myth: The Noise Management Study Advisory Group (“NMSAG”) met only twice.
Fact: This group met three times, between November, 2008, and July, 2009. The biggest single stumbling block to holding more meetings during this period was scheduling conflicts among City Councillors sitting on the NMSAG.

Myth: The NMSAG was not consulted about the noise barriers to manage noise from engine run-ups.
Fact: Barriers were presented and discussed at the July, 2009, meeting of the NMSAG. Later that Fall, a small group of nearby residents complained to the Toronto Sun and Now magazine that the barriers were “off the shelf” and could have been implemented years ago. Now they are claiming that the community wasn’t consulted on the merits of the idea.

Myth: The sound measurements confirm there are frequent instances of loud and very loud noise from the airport.
Fact: The independent sound measurements confirm that the loudest sounds in the BBTCA area come from motorcycles and other motor vehicles using Queen’s Quay and the Gardiner Expressway, not aircraft. This data was shared and discussed with the NMSAG.
This data can be found on Page II-9 of the Jacobs Consultancy study.

Myth: The TPA’s public meeting on noise management held on Feb. 17, 2010, was disrespectful to the community.
Fact: The Feb. 17 public meeting was held as an open-house-style meeting in which three officials from the TPA and Jacobs Consultancy were on hand to answer questions for 2 ½ hours. The date of the public meeting and the study was released to the Noise Management Advisory Group in mid-January. The date of the public meeting and the study was announced on the TPA website and through press release on Feb. 8. Two display ads announcing the public meeting were published in the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun later that week. Approximately 30 community members attended.

Twenty poster boards outlining the study’s findings and recommendations were on display. As well, copies of the study and two background documents were available. Any community member could attend, approach the three experts as well as the TPA’s President and CEO, ask questions about the data and the recommendations, and ask to have their concerns followed up later. Feedback forms were made available to attendees, but only four were submitted.

The open-house public meeting is a valid and widely accepted tool for soliciting public input into such initiatives. In fact, the City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto often use this format to engage the public:
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