7 News Archive
Plans for STOLport called unjustified

By Janet Howard
Seven News, May 21, 1977

While residents of the Toronto Island community continue their fight against the bulldozer – which could strike this year – the proposal for a major airport on the Islands is worrying people from across Toronto.

The idea is called a STOLport – an airport for a special plane called short take-off and landing aircraft because it uses shorter than standard runways. The STOLport would be an expansion of the existing Island airport at the west end of the Islands, but there would be a big difference: the STOL planes would operate a regular commercial service between Toronto and various Ontario and Quebec cities which would then require downtown airports themselves.

Recently a meeting was held at the King Edward Hotel to hear the public’s views on the future of the Toronto Island Airport. The options proposed are: STOLPORT, regional parkland, parkland with a small new residential community, or a major residential community linked by a causeway to Bathurst Street.

The meeting was jammed with people wanting to tell Federal Transport Minister Otto Lang and his Provincial counterpart, James Snow, what they don’t want: the STOLport. Aldermen from most of the Toronto wards bordering the lake – wards 1, 6, 7 and 9, and Dick Gilbert from Ward 3 – argued against the aviation lobby on a number of grounds.

For the sake of cutting travel time to and from Malton Airport, we would get an extremely expensive new service creating noise and congestion along the waterfront where the park given to the city by the Federal government during an election a few years ago is still floundering its way to development.

Since Federal government money would go into STOLport, there would be less available for the transportation needs of the majority of the travelling public. People across Canada are demanding improved rail service, and yet it is estimated that STOL would take away 26 – 28% of the rail passengers to Ottawa and Montreal by 1990, increasing losses and ultimately harming service. More than 75% of the passengers would be people who now use ordinary air service and have presumably found inter-city travel tolerable in terms of time and cost.

Two airlines are now test-flying jet-powered STOL planes for the American military, with predictions of a commercial version within 10 years. That could mean an international airport located right downtown in the Toronto islands.

Who wants that? Certainly not people who live downtown or people who gratefully retreat to the Toronto islands for peace and quiet. The Islands have been our pride for many years. Visitors to Toronto from all over have heard of the Islands and marvel at this natural feature that we have managed to preserve with its variety of landscape, recreation facilities, its charming little community setting an example of tranquility and co-operation. And now a Malton or a Pickering at the west end?

Not, I think, if Ward 6 and Ward 7 people have anything to do with it.

Published in Seven News, Volume 7, Number 23, May 21, 1977.

Related topics:
Toronto Island Airport