Toronto still doesn’t know what to think about Porter’s jet proposal

Toronto still doesn’t know what to think about Porter’s jet proposal

(Image: DearEdward) (Image: DearEdward)

With city council’s executive committee gearing up for next week’s debate on Porter Airlines’ bid to bring jets to the island airport, a new Forum Research poll reinforces what has been apparent for some time: Toronotonians are pretty evenly split over the proposal.

According to the Star, the poll of 1,271 people found 46 per cent in favour and 40 per cent against, but the margin of error was three percentage points, meaning support for both sides can be considered more or less even. A December poll found 43 per cent in favour and 39 per cent against, so it seems as though everyone has managed to pick up a few adherents. Among the groups most likely to support the jet proposal were men, Etobicoke/York residents and supporters of Rob Ford.

It’s not surprising that the jets-on-the-island issue has become a polarizing one. Both pro- and anti-jet advocates have been engaging in intense publicity. No Jets T.O., a protest group, has a lively public presence, both at city hall and online. (Anyone who publishes positive stories about Porter has by now grown used to the torrents of irate emails and tweets.)

Meanwhile, Porter has been spending unknown quantities of cash on ads, social media engagements and even lawn signs. An attempt to cajole Facebook users into writing pro-jets letters to their local city councillors landed the airline in trouble earlier this week when jet opponents complained that the campaign’s presentation—it seemed, at first, to be nothing more than a web poll about favourite air destinations—was misleading.

Regardless of what the executive committee decides next Tuesday, the jets proposal is bound to become an issue in the 2014 mayoral election. Olivia Chow and Karen Stintz have both come out against Porter, John Tory is “skeptical” of jets and David Soknacki has said he’d only support the plan if certain waterfront-friendly conditions are met. Only Rob Ford is unreservedly in favour.