The creeps at Porter Airlines

The creeps at Porter Airlines are at it again.

Yeah, them. The same dopes and thugs we warned you about last year:

Some have questioned how $22 million could have been touted as the cost of building the bridge, when a few months later $35 million is being paid to not build it. But it’s likely the money won’t be wasted, because the original schemers are still around, and now they have money greasing their pocketbooks. It’s unlikely we’ve heard the last of their lot.

Or should we be fuming at the Toronto Star. Cancel our subscription!

Oh, wait. We already did that.

Today the Star (which editorialized several days ago on the subject of why the new airline is a “good thing” for Toronto and goes hand-in-hand with the “clean, green waterfront” they’ve always paid lipservice to) presented on the front page a story about the new airline’s expansion plans.

It wasn’t their story that bugged us though, but the pretty little diagram they included with it: a map of North America with Toronto in the centre and a dashed line encircling most of the continent from St. John’s in the east to Regina in the west, and from Havana in the south to Iqaluit in the north.

“Garsh,” we heard people muttering on the subway from Donlands clear over to Christie, “That dashed line makes it clear we here in Toronto will soon be really connected to the world, thanks to those generous urban visionaries at Porter Air.”

This isn’t to say the airline company’s sworn enemies, the folks at CommunityAIR, will be taking this lying down. Oh, no. They’re going to be at the front line with their petitions and their noise complaints and their demands for an extension of the park that comprises most of the Toronto Islands. We expect there will be letters to the editor in all the major papers.

The radicals.

And the people of Toronto are going to yawn and turn away. Some of them are going to actually applaud the new airline. Some of them are going to be happy not to have to weather the turbulence getting to Pearson Airport for their jaunt. Some of them don’t care about the noise concerns of those whom they perceive as “elites” in the 362 houses on the Toronto Islands. Even among the condominium crowd, there is no consensus. For every tenant who worries about noise from the airport, there’s another one hiding behind hermetically sealed windows who thinks it’s cool to have airplanes buzzing past.

The two main contenders for mayor in November’s election were in the thick of it today.
Miller, the incumbent, made a pun about the “endless flight–I mean fight” with the island airport. Pitfield, the challenger, is happy to rub the belly of the new airline. No surprise there. Her strategy so far has been to oppose everything the mayor supports, and vice-versa. Neither of them seems to be thinking for themself, in any case. Neither of them has taken a stand on the fact that three cyclists this year were killed by large trucks. Neither of them has made a call to mandate European-style sideguards on large trucks.

But we digress.

Fact is, if the choice with the island airport is between a new and expanded airport, with connections from downtown Toronto to St John’s and Havana and Regina and Iqaluit, and a new and expanded island park system, with picnic areas and sand dunes and a ball diamond, we actually feel ambivalent.

Toronto has a lot of parkland. It also has a pretty good airport. We almost don’t care which one prevails.

And we don’t think we’re alone in this.

Most people are bored with the debate.
Most don’t see how it affects them, out in their bungalow north of the 401 highway. Neither Miller nor Pitfield is going to get traction in this argument. Neither is going to win votes either way.

It’s too bad there doesn’t seem to be anyone capable of expressing a third way: neither an expansion of the airport, nor an expansion of the stale parkland that’s already over there on the iislands.

A third way: an expansion of the non-driving zones of the city.
A place to live. A new urban settlement.

We have appeased the non-smokers. What about the non-drivers? Andy Singer CARtoon

What we have in mind is a residential development modeled on the existing Toronto Island Land Trust, where residents would lease, not buy the land under their dwellings. Who would own the land? We don’t care. Hell, it could be the Toronto Port Authority, for all we care. But the Land Trust would control sales, eliminating speculation and land grabs.

A scheme that leaves the super-hardened runways in place as a palimpsest for future main street development, ala Queen Street West or the Danforth: shops at street level, walk-up apartments over top. One that drops the time-tested patterns of Ward’s or Algonquin islands into the interstitial areas, with small houses on small lots, bordered by narrow, car-free streets.

A non-driving zone, with a tram system in place on the former runways, with shops and storefronts beneath apartments on the car-free “main streets,” with multiple ferry-links to the mainland of Toronto and to the rest of the islands, and with the tiny houses that anyone who ever visits Ward’s Island comes away marveling at. Bicycles everywhere. People walking hand-in-hand. People singing and skipping and playing in the streets. A non-driving zone: a living zone.

The island airport site could easily provide several thousand dwelling units of a variety of forms, plus the amenities to support the new inhabitants, all in a car-free setting that would put Toronto in the forefront of the sustainable urban design movement.

Where is the Mayoral contender with the vision to voice such a proposal.

We’re just asking.

After all, as another mayor, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago famously said, “You can’t have cars, cars, cars 24 hours a day.”

Airplanes? Parks? That’s another matter. Apparently for Swiller and Pigfield, either one will do just fine.

Expand the non-driving zones of the city!

It’s the climate, stupid.

One Response to “The creeps at Porter Airlines”

  1.  

    [...] Fletcher, give up! Just like the Allderblob, which will no doubt soon be flying Porter air out of Toronto “because it’s just so much work to get to Pearson,” we know you [...]

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