Evidence of meeting #122 for Transport, Infrastructure and Communities in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was airport.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sheri Benson  Saskatoon West, NDP
Pam Damoff  Oakville North—Burlington, Lib.
Matt Jeneroux  Edmonton Riverbend, CPC
Michael Keenan  Deputy Minister, Department of Transport
Sheilagh Murphy  Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Economic Development, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Jeff Knoll  Town and Regional Councillor, Town of Oakville and Regional Municipality of Halton, Halton Region
Hillary Marshall  Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority
Sandra Best  Chair, Toronto Aviation Noise Group
Renee Jacoby  Founding Chair, Toronto Aviation Noise Group
Robyn Connelly  Director, Community Relations, Greater Toronto Airports Authority
Arif Virani  Parkdale—High Park, Lib.
Robert Oliphant  Don Valley West, Lib.

10:10 a.m.

Oakville North—Burlington, Lib.

Pam Damoff

Thank you, Councillor Knoll.

The growth of Pearson is something that I know Oakville council and the region of Halton have been quite engaged in, and you've had delegations to both councils.

Do you see a role for the minister and the Department of Transport in that growth? Should there be some engagement by the minister in the growth of the airport?

10:10 a.m.

Town and Regional Councillor, Town of Oakville and Regional Municipality of Halton, Halton Region

Jeff Knoll

Once again, I'll go back to my previous responses.

First of all, I think the answer to that is absolutely yes. I agree, and I said this in my statement. I fully acknowledge, respect and appreciate the economic contributions made by Pearson and the GTAA organization; however, there is a disconnect between the ambitions and the desires of the board of the GTAA to serve more customers and the impacts on the ground.

I do believe that the federal government, as the people's representatives with this in their jurisdiction, needs to be taking a direct role in this. As I stated, it is having a deleterious impact on the quality of life of surrounding communities. Once upon a time, the airport was built in an area where there was nobody around it. It was built in the middle of a farmer's field, essentially, in Malton. Those times have changed.

The impacts of what takes place at the airport need to be considered in the context of the people who live there in an adjacent community or, like my friends from TANG, in midtown Toronto.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you very much.

We are going to Mr. Aubin for five minutes.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you to each of the witnesses for being here this morning.

My first question is for Ms. Best and Ms. Jacoby, as well as Mr. Knoll.

Since beginning our study, we have heard from witnesses who suffer the consequences of aircraft noise, and I have absolutely no doubt as to how disruptive it is for them. However, no one has been able to show me a noise level airports and citizens' groups could agree on. The only standard I have found thus far is an average noise limit of 55 decibels, as recognized by the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization. We all know, though, that aircraft noise is well in excess of 55 decibels.

Do airport authorities and citizens' groups at least agree on the instruments used to measure the noise so that the data gathered by each side is even accepted for discussion? Again, wouldn't it be up to Transport Canada to be more transparent and provide access to all the data that would allow for a conversation based on the same information?

10:10 a.m.

Chair, Toronto Aviation Noise Group

Sandra Best

I think that's a very valid question. Thank you.

I think the issue we all face at the moment is that because GTAA and NavCan are private companies, there is no freedom of information involved, and therefore we cannot see how decisions are made, so we cannot understand how they're trying to do things. In terms of the decibel levels, there has to be some clarity around that. There has to be some agreement among everyone on what that looks like.

More importantly, when we speak with pilots and when we do our research, we find there are two kinds of aircraft noise. There is the noise when you're coming down to land. There's not much you can do about that. You're coming in to land as an aircraft. But, there is a lot you can do about the downwind, which is the initial descent before you turn. I think within that, discussions about decibel levels can be had. Agreements can be made. Planes can fly more quietly and they can fly higher.

Some of that has been undertaken already, but the decibel issue itself is a massive problem worldwide, and I don't think you're going to find agreements anywhere in airports. Those are not happening.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you.

Would you like to add anything, Mr. Knoll?

10:10 a.m.

Town and Regional Councillor, Town of Oakville and Regional Municipality of Halton, Halton Region

Jeff Knoll

Sure. I'd be happy to jump in.

I think that strictly measuring impacts on a scientific metric like noise compression rates or decibel rates is not the only consideration. The accepted standards do not necessarily take into account concentration, for example. Having 55 decibels once every 20 minutes may be an acceptable standard, but 55 decibels or 45 decibels or any metric on a consistent, concentrated basis leads to a level of frustration and annoyance that is very hard to measure by science.

As I said in my opening statement, it's an issue of quality of life. When you are constantly bombarded with sound, whether it meets a certain standard or not, it's going to have an impact on your ability to conduct your daily activities, your sleep and your well-being.

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Thank you.

My next question is for you, Ms. Marshall.

The final report put out by Helios, an independent firm, contains 18 short-term recommendations that take into account best practices for reducing aviation noise. In your opening statement, you said that Pearson airport would be following through on 10 commitments. Do they overlap with the recommendations? Are your 10 commitments among the 18 Helios recommendations? If not, where do you stand on the Helios report?

10:15 a.m.

Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Hillary Marshall

Is there any relationship among the 10 recommendations?

We believe that the recommendations, taken together—whether they're for insulation, a quieter fleet incentive program, changes in reporting or changes in the noise committee—should help us move forward toward international best practices in airport noise management.

Did I understand your question properly?

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Yes, thank you.

Will the airport's 10 recommendations be available soon? Will we be able to see them?

10:15 a.m.

Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Hillary Marshall

They are available. They're posted on our website, as well as the short-, medium- and long-term actions that we're undertaking toward each of them.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Ms. Marshall, can we ensure that the committee gets a copy of that report, please?

10:15 a.m.

Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

We'll go on to Mr. Sikand and then Ms. Ratansi.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

My question will be for the GTAA. I'll start by saying that I really appreciate the engagement I've had with you. I've had two people from my constituency actually participate in public consultation, and I've also enjoyed speaking to you about potentially making Pearson and Mississauga a transit hub.

Having said that, there have been estimates of Pearson expanding to 80 million or 90 million people by 2030, I believe. What is 100% capacity for Pearson?

10:15 a.m.

Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Hillary Marshall

I'll just take a step back and try to explain. We have a certain number of runways at Toronto Pearson. We have five runways, and we are able to operate them in such a way that, as planes get larger and they're carrying more passengers, the number of passengers coming through the airport increases significantly, but the number of movements themselves—

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

I'm sorry; I have limited time. There must be a number, though. You can't continue to have planes coming in indefinitely.

10:15 a.m.

Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Hillary Marshall

Right now, our master plan calls for us to reach about 85 million passengers by 2037. That is with quite a mix of aircraft operating out of Toronto Pearson, but on average, as the planes start to have more seats, we'll be able to manage 85 million passengers with the terminals that we envision, the infrastructure that we have.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Thank you.

Could you speak to the impact of potentially reducing the night flights?

10:15 a.m.

Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Hillary Marshall

I'll go back and point out that we have communicated to our CENAC committee and members of the public that we are undertaking a study of our night flight operations. Night flights, for a city like Toronto and other cities, are flights that are coming from different parts of the country—Vancouver, Calgary, different time zones—and we're also operating both arrivals and departures from Asian airports. We're a global city, and we're trying our best to serve the demand and the need for tourism, trade and cargo, while respecting and managing within the restrictions.

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

I'm going to ask you to speak to a hypothetical situation. Could you speak to the GTAA being in the care and control of another airport, if we were to have one built within proximity of Pearson?

November 27th, 2018 / 10:15 a.m.

Vice-President, Stakeholder Relations and Communications, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Hillary Marshall

There are examples of airports that operate as systems around the world. Today, Toronto Pearson operates within a voluntary network of airports. There are 11 airports in southern Ontario that work together. That is not a mandate; it's not regulated in any fashion, but it is a collaborative, co-operative network of airports that are looking forward to a day when there will be a demand of about 110 million passengers in southern Ontario and looking at how collectively we can service them.

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Thank you.

I do have to share my time, but I have a quick question for Sandra.

Please answer yes or no.

10:20 a.m.

Chair, Toronto Aviation Noise Group

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Gagan Sikand Liberal Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

If Billy Bishop Airport was to be expanded, would your community be affected?