NEWS
03/25/2014 09:47 EDT | Updated 05/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Proposed airport expansion at executive committee today

The city of Toronto's executive committee will today debate Porter Airlines' controversial proposal to expand the runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

- Toronto island airport decision should wait, city council told.

Porter wants to extend the runway so the company can operate Bombardier CS-100 jets from the downtown island airport. Such a move would allow the regional airline — which currently only uses Turboprop planes — to serve destinations beyond its current routes in Ontario, eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.

A city report presented to executive committee last week calls for limits —  largely in the form of caps to passenger volume — to control growth at the airport. The report also points to a number of unanswered questions, such the need for an environmental assessment and the lack of a detailed runway design. It's this staff report that executive committee will debate Tuesday; no decision is expected on the expansion plan today. However a favourable response from executive committee today could see Porter's plan go to a council vote as early as next month.

An earlier staff report said council should delay any vote on the airport's future until next year.

That would mean the decision would come after the Oct. 27 election, when the composition of council could drastically change.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly has said he'd like to see council vote on the plan before the election.

Even without expansion, passenger volume at the airport has surged in recent years, from 26,000 passengers in 2006 to 2.3 million in 2012. Porter's service has proven popular, particularly with business passengers who can travel to  destinations such as Ottawa, New York and Chicago without having to first go to Pearson International Airport.

Opponents who live near the lake, however, say expanding the airport would create noise, pollution and safety issues.

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