How NoJetsTO activists are feeling now that Porter’s plans have been dashed by the feds

How NoJetsTO activists are feeling now that Porter’s plans have been dashed by the feds

(Images: Chris Bateman)

Two weeks ago, when new federal transport minister Marc Garneau dealt an apparent deathblow to the very idea of flying jets out of Billy Bishop Airport, he did it in the most dismissive way possible: on Twitter. Garneau’s 140-character missive was bad news for Robert Deluce, the Porter Airlines CEO who had staked his company’s future on the idea of expanding the island airport to accommodate the bigger planes. At the same time, it was a hard-fought victory for NoJetsTO, an activist group that opposed Deluce’s plan. Monday night, NoJetsTO activists, supporters, and politicians—including Toronto city councillor Joe Cressy, MP Adam Vaughan, former mayor David Miller, and urban planner Ken Greenberg—gathered at Studio Bar on Dundas West to toast their victory. Here’s what they had to say.

Andrew Fraser (Image: Chris Bateman)
 

Andrew Fraser, 51, librarian
“You don’t get victories a lot if you’re an activist, so when we get one it’s nice to have a victory party. If Porter wants to use jets, there’s Pearson—they can fly over there.”

Rick and Tina Persich (Image: Chris Bateman)
 

Tina Persich, a 54-year-old arts administrator, and Rick Persich, a 54-year-old actor
Rick: “We live 200 feet away from the terminal building. I couldn’t believe Porter’s expansion plans had been defeated, and I still don’t 100 per cent believe it. I’ve never heard of anything more stupid in my life—landing jet planes in an inner city.”

Elizabeth Glor-Bell (Image: Chris Bateman)
 

Elizabeth Glor-Bell, 28, activist
“I was an organizer for NoJetsTO. I have flown Porter before, and I really enjoyed it, but I think the proposed expansion was far too much. Nothing is ever set in stone, so having a commitment from the federal government is really great. It was a big relief to finally have it in print.”

Erella Ganon (Image: Chris Bateman)
 

Erella Ganon, 56, artist
“It’s lunacy to even think about putting jets in the most populated part of our country. I felt very strongly about it. I attended protests, I wrote letters, I attended meetings at city hall. Now, common sense is returning. Common sense is winning.”

Paul Bedford and Ken Greenberg (Image: Chris Bateman)
 

Paul Bedford, former Toronto chief planner, and Ken Greenberg, former Toronto director of urban design and architecture
Greenberg: “An airport expansion would be convenient, but it’s not worth it for the damage it would do. It would have been ironic to do something so hostile to the environment just at the moment when we’ve fixed up Queens Quay, when we’re doing a new park in Ontario Place—when all these things are happening. We really would be operating at cross purposes.”

Bedford: “This is about the waterfront, not about Porter. That’s a very important difference. You’ve only got one waterfront. To have jets landing every two or three minutes would turn it into a different place.”

Dawn Buie (Image: Chris Bateman)
 

Dawn Buie, 45, media professional
“If this group hadn’t worked this hard, I wonder: would Trudeau have listened? The government can, just with the stroke of a pen, eliminate this problem. In some ways that seems strange—almost like people’s work doesn’t matter.”

Dewitt Lee (Image: Chris Bateman)
 

Dewitt Lee, 37, activist
“This was a big win for an online movement. I think this is going to be the model for these kinds of citizen-driven movements. When you win the hearts and minds of people on social media it transfers over to the physical space.”

Adam Vaughan (Image: Chris Bateman)
 

Adam Vaughan, 54, MP for Spadina-Fort York
“We knew Porter’s expansion plans weren’t going to happen a couple of years ago when we signed the reports at city council. That’s when it died. It wasn’t the jets. Everyone kept talking about Mr. Deluce and the jets. It’s about our waterfront. Are we going to build a city for Torontonians, or are we going to build a city for private business interests? It’s like the Spadina Expressway in a different generation.”