Toronto Port Authority Backgrounder

Toronto Port Authority Backgrounder

The Tripartite Agreement (1983, amended in 2003) that governs the operation of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport prohibits a vehicular tunnel, and expressly permits a fixed link bridge. In 2005, a regulation was made by the Government of Canada that expressly prohibits a “bridge or similar fixed link” (such as, for example, a causeway) between the mainland and the airport.

On January 29, 2010, the TPA advised that it had initiated a process that will bring forward Public-Private Partnership (P3) proposals to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain a pedestrian tunnel from the mainland to the Billy Bishop Airport under the Western Gap of the Toronto harbour.

That process involves : an environmental assessment (EA) of the proposed tunnel (and perimeter access road), which includes public consultation that is managed by an independent, expert consulting firm; and the consideration of private sector proposals to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the proposed pedestrian tunnel.

The TPA initiated an EA in February, 2010 in order to meet the requirements of applicable legislation (i.e., the Canada Port Authority EA Regulations). The EA considers all relevant and necessary matters for the construction and operation of the proposed project, including applicable cumulative effects. After an initial public meeting held on March 24, 2010, the TPA and the independent EA consultant Dillon Consulting Ltd. continued public consultation for the project and the EA. This involved maintaining a public exchange and dialogue process that has included making information available on the TPA’s website, obtaining and considering comments and questions, obtaining information from government agencies, and meeting with government agencies (including the City of Toronto), First Nations, non-governmental organizations, local residents and other stakeholders. The draft EA report was made available for distribution and public review on November 16, 2010. The TPA held a second public meeting on [November 29, 2010] and a third public meeting on January 12, 2011 to obtain further input (including comments and concerns) on the EA and the proposed project.

The TPA expects it will soon make a decision whether to proceed with the project in light of the results of the EA and taking into consideration the matters required, including comments emanating from public consultation.

As previously announced, the cost of design, building, financing and maintaining the tunnel will be borne by departing passengers via the BBTCA’s existing $20 Airport Improvement Fee (“AIF”), not the general public. The TPA has no taxing authority.

On July 7, 2010, as part of the planning process for the proposed project, the TPA issued the formal request for Expressions of Interest from interested parties, with a deadline of July 23, 2010. The 14 respondents represent a wide variety of domestic and international construction firms, institutional infrastructure investors, and regulated financial institutions.

On August 9, 2010, the TPA issued a Request for Qualifications for the proposed pedestrian tunnel project. More than 50 firms and investor groups responded to the RFQ. Based upon the responses received via that stage of the process, the TPA identified, in accordance with the terms of the RFQ, a short list of three consortia that were invited to participate in the next stage of the competitive selection process.

If the proposed project were to proceed, the TPA would continue to operate the ferry Marilyn Bell I to provide airport access for fuel, catering and passenger vehicles, construction equipment and cargo operators.

The TPA’s existing ferry service does not operate between midnight and 5:30 a.m., and as such, the proposed tunnel would provide safe, reliable and round-the-clock access to paramedics and patients for example, who need access to downtown Toronto hospitals.

The BBTCA is closed to private and commercial air traffic between 11:00 p.m. and 6:45 a.m. each day.

About the Toronto Port Authority

The Toronto Harbour Commissioners was continued as a port authority under the name of the Toronto Port Authority as of June 8, 1999 under the Canada Marine Act. It is a federal public authority providing transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses. The TPA owns and operates the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Marine Terminals 51 and 52, and the Outer Harbour Marina. The TPA also provides regulatory controls and public works services to enhance the safety and efficiency of marine navigation and aviation in the port and harbour of Toronto.

Further information about the TPA is available at