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Closing the airport will add 210 acres or 25.7% to Toronto Island park

July 6, 2024

Letter to: John Lorinc

Spacing magazine – July 4, 2024


I enjoy your insight and knowledge about our city.

But your blind spot is your support about a bridge to the Island across the eastern gap.

You seem to have wasted your time dog paddling through the Toronto Island Master Plan.

If you had taken just a slight dive you might have found, this map.

If you take a look at this map from the report you will see that the entire east end of the Island is an Environmentally Significant Area.

Toronto Island Park environmentally sensitive areas (Toronto)
Toronto Island Park environmentally sensitive areas (Toronto)

Not only is it an Environmentally Significant Area it has Provincially Significant Wet Lands

Toronto Island Park Provincially Significant Wet Lands
Toronto Island Park Provincially Significant Wet Lands

One would have to get the Environmental Laws changed, which would happen if only if Ford got enough money from his developer friends.

You would also have to overcome the resistance of the pro-environment community in Toronto. The Toronto Field Naturalists, Bird Friendly City Toronto and the Toronto Ornithological Club all gave presentations at the Committee. They would be fierce foes of any encroachment on the ESAs or PSWs by your bridge.

You have not said a word about the active Port. Have you interviewed anyone in authority from Ports Toronto about having an active pedestrian and cycling bridge in the middle of a busy working Port?

Access to Port Property

7 No person shall access any area managed, held or occupied by a port authority unless

  1. the person accesses the area to conduct legitimate business in the port;

  2. the person is authorized by the port authority to access the area; or

  3. access is not restricted by a sign, a device or in some other way such as by a fence. SOR/2004-255, s. 3

Port of Toronto drives more than $460 million in economic activity

Toronto (November 6, 2023) – Marine cargo handled at the Port of Toronto generated $463.5 million in economic activity and 1,989 jobs in Ontario in 2022, details a new report – Economic Impacts of Marine Shipping in the Port of Toronto – published in September 2023 by Martin Associates.

The red outline is the working Port

Port of Toronto working area

Have you contemplated where the Port would move to and who would pay for the move ?

Do you know what the shippers and the cruise companies that use the port think of this proposal ?


And I am sure you know that the Eastern Gap is a navigable waterway as defined in law.


From Canadian Navigable Waters Act:




Marginal note: Works

3 Except in accordance with this Act, it is prohibited to construct, place, alter, rebuild, remove or decommission a work in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water.


If your bridge is to be built, it either has to be one that opens to allow both commercial shipping and recreational boating through on a on demand basis, or it has to be 36.6 meters (120 ft.) above  the surface of the water. If it is a solid bridge, the minimum distance from the top to the beginning or end at a 12-to-1 slope would be 439.2 meters (1,440 ft.) ; at an easier 20-to-1 slope it would be 720 meters (2,362 ft). It would need to be 3 or 4 meters wide or wider. I went over the pedestrian/cyclist bridge over the Lakeshore and Gardiner at Roncesvalles recently. That is maybe 3 meters wide.

Walking your bike (riding was not allowed), it was a squeeze meeting another person walking their bike. 

Thinking of the distance from the city side to Ward’s beach, you are looking at a cyclist having to walk 2.4 kms from Cherry St. Have you consulted any traffic management people to get an estimate of how many people such a bridge could carry per hour or per day ?


Central Park 

You keep mentioning that Central Park in New York has 42 million visitors per year. You say it has the same area as the Toronto Island. That is technically true, but you imply that both parks are equal in area at 820 acres. Not so, John. I spent the better part of a day determining how much of the Island is actually open park land for public use. It is way less than I thought: only 38.5% of the Island area or about 316 acres.


  • 23% or 190.5 acres is made up of Wetlands and ESAs.

  • 3.8% or 31 acres is the leased area for all the yacht clubs.

  • 4% or 33 acres are the Trust lands and the housing.

  • 30.4% or 249.5 acres are Institutional land.


  • 25.7% or 210.7 acres for the Island Airport.


High Park

So instead of comparing Toronto Island to Central Park let’s compare it to High Park. High Park is 400 acres, is totally free, is accessible by bike, walking, car and subway, and only has about the same number of visitors as the Island per year. So, John, if you really want more people to come to the Island, forget your bridge, advocate for the closing of the airport to add 210 acres or 25.7% to the park. Utilize the airport tunnel and ferries, as well as urge the City to build a fifth large ferry.


And make the ferry free.


Keep calm and ferry on

Barry Lipton


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