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Briler

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Briler last won the day on January 7 2011

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  1. As the Federal government considers bailing out Porter, CommunityAIR asks: Export Development Corporation, a federal government agency, has already loaned Porter $135 million. It has laid off most of its workforce and isn't paying its bills. What has Porter done with the money? Pearson Airport will require immense sums to ensure its survival. To reduce the subsidy Pearson needs, doesn’t it make sense to move Porter’s operation to Pearson, as a condition of further federal support? The federal government has spent some serious money for a high frequency Windsor - Quebec City rail corridor. A recent report suggests the upcoming federal budget should contain further funding. Once up and running it would erode Porter's busiest routes, as is already happening in Europe. Why would the government throw good money after bad? Our waterfront is closer to enduring peace and quiet than it has been for many years. Isn’t this the opportunity to explore alternative more compatible uses for the 215 acres of Island Airport land? Other cities have done so[i] with great success. The Tripartite Agreement, which permits the Airport to operate, expires in 12 years. There is no indication that it will be renewed or renegotiated. Given pressure on the federal government to meet climate change and the high cost to the environment of short haul flights, Porter's business model is unsustainable. Why would the government give money to a best-before-date company? [i] Berlin has now shut two of its four airports – Tempelhof (maintained as a public park, as decided by a 2014 plebiscite), and Tegel (where housing is planned). Chicago’s mayor famously bulldozed the Meigs field runway under cover of darkness – it is now a public park, Northerly Island Edmonton City Centre Airport was closed in November 2013 and is being redeveloped as a planned community called Blatchford. Santa Monica will close its problematic airport in 2028, with plans to convert it to parkland, while drastically shortening its runway in 2017 from 5000′ to 3500′ to reduce jet traffic.
  2. Porter, the scourge of Toronto’s waterfront, is having trouble paying its bills. That’s not a surprise, since it hasn’t operated since March, and has no plans to restart until next February, at the earliest. We’ve all savoured the peace and quiet we’ve had on our waterfront as a result. The story tells us that Porter is trying to stop the terminal owner from seizing three of its planes for non-payment of $45.3M in fees owed to the terminal. The irony is that Porter built the terminal for $50M, and sold it to the current owners for a reported $700M, a massive sum that depends on the income stream from rent payments promised by Porter. To be sure, not all of that $700M was paid – we understand a good portion of it was to be paid when – or if – the current lease from the City for a significant portion of the Island Airport lands is extended from its expiry in June, 2033. And another significant portion of the purchase price was required to be paid to retire the low-interest loans Porter was given to purchase its planes by the federal government’s Export Development Corporation. Required, as the purchaser wanted some assurance that Porter would stay in business, rather than cashing out. That’s the reason Porter can talk about it being debt-free – it has replaced low-cost debt with high-cost rent to the new terminal owner. One must also wonder what the purchaser of the Island Airport terminal was thinking. Porter’s business had “matured” some time earlier. Its sales growth has been essentially stagnant since 2010, and by the date of the sale in 2014, the writing was on the wall that it had just seen its growth plans scuppered by the determined – and successful ‑ community opposition to its proposed use of jets at the Island Airport. Said one commentator, back when the terminal sale was first announced: “I can't think of a more core strategic asset than ownership of the sole passenger terminal in an airport where you control, basically in perpetuity, 90% of all commercial landings. “Successful businesses don't do sale/leasebacks on core strategic assets.”
  3. There's a disconnect here. Porter fans always point to their supposed great service. But I see, now, one hundred pages, with dozens per page, of tweets to Porter by its unhappy customers, found at a website titled "Porter Fail - Documenting customer satisfaction with Porter Airlines" Check it out, at https://porterfail.wordpress.com/satisfaction-stories/satisfaction-stories-51-100/satisfaction-stories-91-100/portersatisfaction100/
  4. There is an alternative for RESA compliance that does not require a runway extension - an extension which would be exceptionally difficult to get approval for in the highly politicized environment the Island Airport operates in. One of the organizations that fought the jets issue has published this analysis: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B86yxyGd4xMWZl9QV0lYNTVQYUk/view It concludes: The coming Transport Canada RESA requirement at BBTCA can be met without lake filling, in three ways: • Reducing Declared Runway Distances: should be assessed as to cost and operational effect. • Implementing EMASes: should be assessed as to technical feasibility, cost, and operational effect. • Taxiway Redesign: is the best option, as it almost certainly provides the most cost effective RESA implementation (other than Reducing Declared Runway Distances) without compromising runway length, and without requiring amendment of the Tripartite Agreement. Its technical feasibility matches that of the design already offered in the “200m+200m expanded runways” design. Lake Filling to Implement RESAs should be discarded as an option on the grounds of costs of lake filling and Tripartite Agreement non-compliance. The emphasis currently given by PortsToronto to Lake Filling to Implement RESAs suggests that RESA implementation options are either 1) not fully thought out, or 2) are presenting lake filling as a fait accompli to reduce opposition to the full lake filling proposal advanced by Porter Airlines.
  5. How is 11 less than 1.64, using your numbers? Here's a chart that sets it out clearly:
  6. And if you fly only 60% full, as Porter does according to the available data, the carbon emissions almost double.
  7. We'll always have aviation. But less of it. Likely much less, if we listen to the scientists. You are confusing pollutants that cause smog and greenhouse gasses, that cause global warming. While nitrous oxide and other pollutants cause smog, the more dire concern is the burning of fossil fuels to emit carbon dioxide, that is not visible, but is causing the global warming that scientists are so concerned about. The "forcing" effect of emissions at high altitudes by aircraft greatly magnifies the impact of their emissions on climate change.
  8. Sorry you feel that way. There is reality, and that reality is that climate change is fast endangering our way of life, and that of millions on our world. Urgent action is required, as many world leaders,at Paris, as well as our own governments, have confirmed. Refusing to accept that aviation has something to do with that, and refusing to start looking at how its contribution can be addressed in a meaningful way is a classic head-in-the-sand response that won't serve your industry well. I do understand that that fundamentally threatens many in your industry. That, however, does not mean it should be simply be ignored as an inconvenient truth.
  9. As I recall, two and a half years ago Bob Deluce thought he could simply use his connections to slide jets through the City in a few months - using his close ties to Rob Ford and the Conservatives. A bit disingenuous to now want a full airing. There are so many issues unaddressed by the Porter proposals, including where the funds (up to a billion dollars) to pay for the expansion would come from. What's surprising is why it was taken seriously by so many in the first place, when it had no real substance to it.
  10. CommunityAIR's Press release today: The Ontario Government is about to enmesh itself in the Island Airport controversy by giving itself the power to give that Airport a huge property tax break. “The Ontario government has studiously avoided getting mixed up in the Island Airport mess – but Bill 144 changes all that. We’re surprised. But we’re even more surprised as that tax break runs counter to its commitment to remove existing incentives to fossil-fuel use.” said Brian Iler, Chair of CommunityAIR. There are many ways in which the carbon economy is subsidized by governments. One of them is aviation. Aviation is one of the fastest-growing contributors to world-wide emissions[1]. Unchecked it can grow to a substantial proportion of global emissions, making a climate-safe future difficult or impossible - and undermining reductions achieved in other sectors. As reported today, the aviation sector has been an outrageous laggard in coming to grips with the urgency of addressing climate change. While the Ontario Government has recognized the need to reduce subsidies for the consumption of fossil fuels[2] it continues to subsidize airports by mandating a vastly reduced property tax regime for them. In effect, it requires four cities with airports within their borders ‑ London, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, and Toronto (Pearson) ‑ to massively subsidize them through reduced property taxes[3]. According to the City of Toronto[4] Pearson paid more than 70% less than market value assessment would mandate. Now, it proposes to expand the number of airports eligible for that subsidy: Bill 144, currently before the Ontario Legislature, would amend the Assessment Act to allow more airports to be added by Regulation[5]. Essentially, the province appears to be proposing to add the Island Airport to the short list of other provincial airports that avoid paying property taxes on the same basis as other taxpayers. A prime reason there are very few city centre airports is that the land is so valuable. Here, all the land comprising the Island Airport and the City-side parking lots comes free, mostly from the federal government, and some from the city on long term nominal-rent leases. Reducing the amount of property taxes the Island Airport pays to the City to a level substantially below that which everyone else pays means the province is opting to force the city to further subsidize the Island Airport's operations – when we know that there is ample capacity at Pearson[6]. Last year, Ports Toronto requested that the province add the Island Airport to the list of airports getting property tax breaks. After years of fighting Ports Toronto to collect its fair share of taxes, the City of Toronto capitulated and joined with Ports Toronto in that request. On July 23, 2014, CommunityAIR wrote to Finance Minister Sousa, as follows: We urge you not to allow the Toronto Port Authority [now Ports Toronto] to avoid its responsibilities to the citizens, and taxpayers, of the City of Toronto. Instead, we request that you join the Federation of Canadian Municipalities[7] campaign to insist that the Federal Government and its agencies pay their fair share of taxes to Canadian municipalities. The Toronto Port Authority has resisted paying its fair share of property taxes for the Island Airport to the City of Toronto for many years now. The arrears, based upon that normal regime, exceed $50,000,000[8]. The Port Authority’s failure to pay amounts to a massive subsidy of the Island Airport operations by the taxpayers of the City of Toronto. While the City of Toronto has vigorously pursued these arrears, with several favourable judgments in the Courts[9], Toronto City Council recently and inexplicably capitulated, agreeing to place this issue in your Government’s hands for resolution. No response was ever received from Minister Sousa. Instead, Bill 144 has received a second reading. 30 [1] According to a report by the Tyndall Centre, If the aviation industry is allowed to grow at rates even lower than those being experienced today, the EU could see aviation accounting for between 39% and 79% of its total carbon budget by 2050, depending on the stabilisation level chosen. For the UK, the respective figures are between 50% and 100%. [2] From Ontario's Climate Change Strategy, November 25, 2015 version: Our strategy recognizes the negative impact of fossil fuels on the climate. We will look at removing existing initiatives that support fossil fuel use [3] Under the Ontario Assessment Act, four airports ‑ London, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, and Toronto Pearson ‑ are entitled to pay property taxes to the local municipality at a rate based on the number of passengers using the airport, rather than being based on the fair market value of the property occupied by the airport. The rates are: Designated Airport Authority Passenger Rate Greater London International Airport Authority $1.66998 Greater Toronto Airports Authority 0.94029 Ottawa International Airport Authority 1.07735 Thunder Bay International Airports Authority 0.55403 [4] From a January 11, 2006 report to Toronto City Council: For the period 2001 – 2004, the average annual payment in lieu of taxes received for GTAA property located within the City of Toronto was approximately $133,463, based on the current Assessment Act regulations. If the payment in lieu of tax amount was calculated using the Current Value Assessment (CVA) times the applicable tax rate, it is estimated that the PIL amount would be $457,029. [5] Schedule 1 of the Bill contains the revision. The explanatory note tells the story: “Subsection 3 (1) of the Act currently exempts land owned or leased by designated airport authorities within the meaning of the Airport Transfer (Miscellaneous Matters) Act (Canada). Amendments are made to also exempt other authorities that operate airports and that are prescribed by the regulations. The amendment applies to taxation years after 2012.. Under that federal Act, the Minister may designate any corporation or other body to which the Minister is to sell, lease or otherwise transfer an airport as a designated airport authority ‑ the Island Airport isn’t one. [6] Eileen Waechter, Pearson’s director of airport planning: “Pearson projected in 2008 that it would need to add a sixth runway, but it appears that may not be necessary for at least another two decades” quoted in Globe and Mail, October 8, 2015 [7] Statement by FCM president Karen Leibovici following the Supreme Court’s decision on the federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act on June 15, 2012: "Today's Supreme Court unanimous ruling on the Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act confirms the responsibility of the federal government to compensate municipalities fairly for federal properties within their communities. This ruling signals that the Government of Canada cannot arbitrarily set a value on its properties, and must pay their taxes like any property owner. Municipal governments stand ready to work with the federal government to improve its Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) system, so that it meets the needs of both federal property owners and the local governments that provide them with critical services. The court's decision will help cities and communities across the country collect the funds they are fairly owed for the services they provide to federal properties, like fire protection, policing and transportation access. Fair and predictable PILT revenues are crucial for municipalities to meet their growing list of responsibilities, many of which are downloaded by other orders of governments, while collecting just eight cents of every tax dollar paid by Canadians." Successful lobbying by municipalities that had long suffered from the presence of federal government property led to the enactment of this Regulation under the Payments in Lieu of Taxes Act: “a payment made by a corporation [i.e. the TPA] in lieu of a real property tax for a taxation year shall be not less than [our emphasis] the product of (a) the corporation effective rate[7] in the taxation year applicable to the corporation property in respect of which the payment may be made; and (b) the corporation property value[7] in the taxation year of that corporation property.” This says clearly that the TPA must pay its taxes (known Payments in Lieu of Taxes or “PILTs”) on the same basis as every other taxpayer. [8] At a meeting of Toronto and East York Community Council on March 20, 2012, a City Finance official stated that the City had billed $58M in property taxes on the Island Airport lands for the period to the end of 2010, while the TPA had paid only $9M [9] The City of Toronto successfully intervened in two cases in the Supreme Court of Canada: In the first case, decided in 2010, Montréal (City) v. Montreal Port Authority, the Court stated: “Parliament intended Crown corporations and managers of federal property to make payments in lieu on the basis of the existing tax system in each municipality, to the extent possible as if they were required to pay tax as owners or occupants.[para. 42] “Thus, the purpose of the PILT Act is to establish a system of payments in lieu that reflects the actual tax situation in the places where federal property is located.” [para. 46] In the second case, decided in 2012, the Court in Halifax (Regional Municipality) v. Canada (Public Works and Government Services) stated: “Just as fairness to the Federal Crown demands that the Minister retain the discretion to come to his own opinion on property value, fairness to municipalities demands that the Minister’s opinion be informed by the tax system that would apply to the federal property in issue if it were taxable … “But the Act is directed to fair and equitable PILTs with reference to what taxes would be payable if the site were taxable” … “The Minister’s position is also at odds with the broader policy of the PILT Act, which is to treat municipalities fairly. It can hardly be thought either fair or equitable to conclude that 42 acres in the middle of a major metropolitan centre has no value for assessment purposes." The City, having won at the Federal Court of Canada on this precise issue in 2010, hasn’t taken that Court’s decision back to the Disputes Resolution Tribunal, in relation to the Island Airport lands.
  11. Now that Adam Vaughan has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, perhaps Porter and Ports Toronto will cease wasting everyone's time with their efforts to move their jets agenda forward. Any slim hope that Adam would not have influence in Ottawa is clearly forlorn.
  12. MD2 - is it that you are naive, or just haven't been paying attention? Aviation's growing contribution to climate change has been increasingly noted and criticized in Europe. But certainly underlying the recent refusal of permission to expand the Island Airport was the sense that investing in fossil-fuel-intensive airports (like pipelines) is not indicated if we are to significantly reduce fossil-fuel emissions, as we must. The ICAO has been foot-dragging on this for years. Here's an excerpt from the Pickering anti-airport group Land over Landing's recent Submission, that nicely outlines the issue: Civil aviation’s carbon footprint is rapidly growing. The sector is responsible for 2 – 2.5 per cent of total global CO2 emissions.[47] It also has the dubious distinction of producing contrails, whose impact on the climate is now thought to be even greater than that of CO2 emissions. And in 2010, it was estimated that without policy intervention, aviation emissions of CO2 would increase by between 1.9-fold and 4.5-fold by the year 2050. In response, the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) obtained an agreement to develop rules by the end of 2016 to make civil aviation carbon-neutral from 2020 onwards, through the implementation of three major mechanisms: • renewable biofuel use, • aviation technology improvements (aerodynamics, engines, etc.), and • “market based measures,” such as airfares. The research of Manchester University’s Prof. D.S. Lee et al. claims that the fuel and technology contributions will be so small by 2020 that airfares will have to increase until demand is flattened to meet the carbon neutral goal. The world’s jets rely on fossil fuels, burning through some 5 million barrels every day. Attempts to develop alternative fuels (from sources as varied as corn, Jatropha, Camelina, algae, wood pellets, used cooking oil, and most recently, halophytes) show promise but face hurdles: • So far, no one has been able to produce any of these alternative fuels in commercial quantities. Last year, Boeing’s Sustainable Biofuel Strategy Director, Darrin Morgan, commented that “It would be a significant milestone if we can get biofuels to one per cent of the total jet fuel demand.” The milestone may since have been reached, but that leaves 99 per cent to go, and the clock is ticking. • Certain biojetfuels can be used only as a percentage of the overall fuel used. Any higher percentage would require re-engineered jet engines or retrofitting. • Large areas of foodland are being taken out of production to grow feedstock for biofuels, and governments are starting to wake up to the fact that this situation can’t continue. Can the production of certain biojetfuels be geared up to commercial levels? How will the price of oil change in the future? How will biojetfuel be priced? How will CO2 emissions be priced or regulated? How will other jet emissions that cause the GHG effect be regulated? At some point, the world’s need to cut GHG emissions will draw the aviation industry into its crosshairs. Will the industry lose its subsidies? Be forced to charge the true cost of flying? Face tight restrictions and limitations on everything but essential travel and freight? Who knows? In a world in climate crisis, nothing will be business as usual. During the 2008–2009 global financial crisis, we learned the hard way that “too big to fail” was no ironclad protection against failure. Will the next (if a little unwieldy) rallying cry be: “too important to restrict, even if it jeopardizes our future survival”? Whatever the future holds for aviation, the sector (and its airports) will be unable to count on growth.
  13. Oh, and here's another perspective on "PorterPlans": http://youtu.be/UMgshtPWRpA
  14. MD2. if I were from Mars, the reaction, I suspect, would very much be like those of many tourists from around the world who come to our waterfront to say, this is wonderful, but why do you allow an airport to operate in the middle of it? Here's one: http://youtu.be/FnFru2728es Other cities have seen the wisdom of closing City Centre airports: Edmonton, Chicago, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Hong Kong - largely because the land's just too valuable for a low-return use like aviation. Pearson has ample capacity: "Pearson projected in 2008 that it would need to add a sixth runway, but it appears that may not be necessary for at least another two decades, she said, because airlines are using larger planes and have increased the number of seats they have on all sizes of planes." [from The Globe and Mail, Oct. 08, 2015] Porter's never even attempted to justify its Jets proposal on the basis of need. And none of the studies underway consider need. It's always been about what Porter wants.
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