NEWS
04/01/2014 08:35 EDT | Updated 06/01/2014 05:59 EDT

Airport expansion proposal at 'pivotal point,' Porter CEO says

The debate over a Porter Airlines' proposal to expand Billy Bishop Toronto Island Airport is set to take off again today at city council.

Council will vote on a staff report that if approved, would the city to continue to study the plan under certain restrictions called for by staff. A no vote would halt the proposal for now.

Last week the city's executive committee voted against giving the plan an immediate endorsement. Instead the committee agreed with city staff that more detailed information about the proposal is needed before the plan is endorsed.

A regional airline, Porter currently operates turboprop planes from the airport but wants the runway extended to allow jets to operate there.

A city staff report points to a number of unanswered questions about the expansion proposal, including a lack of environmental assessments, the absence of a detailed runway plan and the need for more information about the noise the Bombardier C-Series jets would create.

Porter president and CEO Robert Deluce says the expansion would bring jobs to the city and allow Porter to reach more distant destinations, such as Vancouver and San Francisco.

Opponents are concerned about noise and the environmental impacts of allowing jets.

"We're at a pivotal point," said Deluce Tuesday in an interview on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "Many passengers have asked us to extend the Porter service a bit further," he said.

Groups on both sides of the debate have been waging a full-scale media war. Anti-airport expansion group No Jets T.O. has purchased a full-page newspaper ad that ran today. It features the headline "Our Waterfront is priceless, why give it away?"

Deluce said No Jets T.O., along with "certain politicians and our competitors" are "purposely misleading the public."

"We welcome the scrutiny of a thorough review to shed full light on the questions being raised," he said. "We're invested in telling people about the facts of our proposal."

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