When Porter announced last May its intention to seek accommodation for Jets at the Toronto Island Airport it was on the understanding that it was a small change. What has emerged in the 10 months since that fated announcement has shown just how far Toronto has lost control over one of the most valuable chunks of infrastructural real-estate in the city.
The Raccoon of YTZ has pretty much sculpted the debate on the fate of the Islands into a contest between those for and those against jets. Those who seek convenience and those who simply don’t want progress. However, this actually skirts the issue. The real concern is what happens if City Hall agrees to allow jets and agrees to extend the current tripartite agreement beyond 2033? I want to propose a debate of much wider scope: what does this city want? Can we imagine something better for the site of YTZ that goes beyond a private venture on public land? I want us to ask ourselves seriously and without reservations: what do we want beyond 2033?
Do we want to continue shuttling people down Bathurst Street for the sake of flying them off somewhere else or do we want to make the bottom of Bathurst a destination in its own right?
Do we want that vision shaped by the political friends of whoever is sitting in Ottawa? The TPA’s board of patrons will never operate in the name of the city regardless of who controls Parliament, because it is a set of appointed jobs for the party loyal. As far as the Toronto Port Authority is concerned there is nothing at stake in the future of the city as anything except a center for extracting rent.
Does 2033 look like a place we want to build and live in or a place we simply have foisted on us? The conversation began 10 months ago. It’s been dominated by a single deafening roar: Bobby and his Jets. It is time for the rest of us to actually talk this out.