Toronto could be a little more than a week away from grounding the proposal to have jets fly in and out of the island airport.
On April 1st, council will consider a new report by city staff on expanding Billy Bishop. The report takes a phased approach to growth, tying it to transit and road improvements while putting a maximum on how many travellers and planes can pass through. The recommendation is to cap the number of passengers at 2.4-million/year and limit the number of takeoffs and landings to 202.
The report doesn't ask council to vote on allowing jets at the airport or to extend its runway in the near term. Deputy city manager John Livey says those issues will be tackled next year by the batch of councillors elected this October.
But councillor Pam McConnell wants to deal with the jets question when council debates the report on airport growth April 1st. She says she's working on a motion to include it as part of the vote.
A firm opponent of jets on the island, McConnell says she would like to see the city move ahead with negotiations to make the airport and the area around it better. But she believes the majority of councillors don't want to see jets taking off and landing at Billy Bishop.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly thinks "the potential is there" for council to greenlight jets. He told reporters he hadn't turned his mind to the possibility of councillors re-affirming a jet ban in April, saying he doesn't think it is "a reasonable alternative to what they will have in front of them".
Kelly is convinced a decision informed by an environmental assessment and public consultations is possible before this year's municipal election.
But councillor Gord Perks says it's not within the realm of legal possibility to get the assessment done and change the city's official plan before council meets for the last time in August.
The environmental assessment alone is expected to take as long nine months, though Kelly says he will look to speed things up where possible.
For jet opponent Perks, "the only way this isn't an election issue is if council says no jets and the TPA (Toronto Port Authority) goes away.”