Converting the Island Airport to parkland: Who signed our pledge?

Updated: Sep 23

Key finding: Every respondent pledged to support a transparent and democratic process to decide the future of the Island Airport lands.

Toronto Island Airport


Parks not Planes asked candidates[1] for the October Toronto municipal election to pledge:

  1. To support a transparent and democratic process to decide the future of the Island Airport lands and

  2. If elected, to assemble a working group that includes substantial Indigenous and community representation, to solidify the plan for the creation of the Waterfront Park when the Island Airport lease expires.

Each received this Briefing Note, and this cover letter. We received 28 responses. All respondents, save John Tory, signed our Pledge.


As we noted in that cover letter,

"June 30, 2033 – the date the City’s lease of some of the Airport lands expires – is not that far away. It’s time now to think about where the public interest lies in deciding the future of those lands, encompassing the views of the Indigenous communities who are the original owners."


The Star’s Matt Elliott put it succinctly in his recent column:

"… the looming need to make a decision over the future of the airport is a real opportunity to commit to a new vision for something bigger, better and bolder. A vision, dubbed Parks Not Planes, unveiled last year by community advocates opposed to the airport was a welcome start."



Our comments on the results


What did we learn?

First, we were pleased that every respondent pledged to support a transparent and democratic process to decide the future of the Island Airport lands. Even John Tory.

Almost all agreed, if elected, to assemble a working group that includes substantial Indigenous and community representation, to solidify the plan for the creation of the Waterfront Park when the Island Airport lease expires.


Surprisingly, John Tory passed the buck to the federal government. He opted to refuse the opportunity to lead on this issue unless the federal government is onside. This, even though the City, as owner of a significant portion of the Airport lands, has the power to refuse to renew the lease if it determines the public interest is better served by a park.


Incumbency is a problem. Too many incumbent politicians failed to publicize a campaign email address or failed to respond.


Is this because they are so assured of re‑election that they feel they need not be open to queries, or engage in this important debate?


These incumbents had no campaign email address that we could find at the time we sent out our request:

Mark Grimes – Ward 3

Frances Nunziata – Ward 5

James Pasternak – Ward 6

Mike Colle – Ward 8

Nick Mantas – Ward 22


These incumbents failed to respond to our email:

Anthony Perruzza – Ward 7

Jaye Robinson – Ward 15

Shelley Carroll – Ward 17

Brad Bradford – Ward 19

Gary Crawford – Ward 20

Michael Thompson – Ward 21

Cynthia Lai – Ward 23

Paul Ainslie – Ward 24

Jennifer McKelvie – Ward 25


Responses

Mayoralty candidates

Sarah Climenhaga

Hi, thanks for sending this to me. I have been aware for years of the conflict between the airport and the island as a public space for all residents of both the island and the city and have been grateful to groups like NoJetsTO and others who have advocated to minimize or eliminate the negative effects of air traffic.


I am a strong supporter of maximizing the creation and maintenance of parks everywhere in this city, including on Toronto Island. The island is a priceless gem for Torontonians of all income levels that, along with the recreational, social and economic benefits it provides residents, has tremendous ecological value. I am fully committed to the work you are doing and am very grateful for your advocacy and work educating council candidates about this.


I am sending this from my campaign email, please consider it a signed pledge (signed by email.)


Phillip D'Cruze

I fully support 100% to work with Parks Not Planes to further protect and keep it safe for generations to come. I say a big YES with my full support.


I talked earlier and had made a suggestion to declare the parks an UNESCO site. Once passed, it can never be taken away from the Original Peoples of This Land. Maybe it can be discussed in your group. I would be humbled for to help in any way or whatever you decide to do to preserve this part of Mother Earth.


Gil Penalosa

Obviously you have my full support; I’d have gone further, making the case for a park.


John Tory

The federal government has been clear what their position is with respect to the Toronto Island Airport. If there is a federal government in the future that wants to revisit its position, the Mayor would participate in that discussion in partnership with his colleagues on city council, and there would be a thorough public consultation. Right now, the Mayor is focused on getting more housing built, moving the historic $28 billion transit plan forward, and leading Toronto through a strong economic recovery.


Council Candidates

Ward 1

Chris Noor

Yes. The planes are too noisy downtown, risk in the winter, with the tall buildings, animals another issue, Extend the Finch LRT to Pearson Airport.


Ward 2

Thomas Yanuziello

Due diligence is required: I need to do some fact-checking on the financial losses of the airport and the high speed rail project timeline. But in terms of the overall message, I agree with you completely. I pledge.


Ward 4

Gord Perks

Councillor Gord Perks would be happy to take your pledge.


Ward 5

Gabriel Takang

I pledge.


Ward 9

Alejandra Bravo

Hope I did this right!


Ward 10

April Engelberg

I pledge:

1) to support a transparent and democratic process to decide the future of the Island Airport lands

Answer: Yes. I make this pledge.

2) if elected, to assemble a working group that includes substantial Indigenous and community representation, to solidify the plan for the creation of the Waterfront Park when the Island Airport lease expires.

Answer: I pledge to consult with members of the community and improve park access around the waterfront. I want to be transparent that I am not advocating to close the Island airport.


Ausma Malik

Firstly, thank you for your consistent advocacy for our community now, and in the successful fight together to stop jets at the Island airport.


Next, a critical once-in-a-generation moment is approaching us with the end of the Tripartite Agreement in 2033, and I share your commitment to make the most of it.


Thank you for the Parks Not Planes briefing note and Pledge. I have reviewed them closely.


I happily and wholeheartedly support the first Pledge, "1) to support a transparent and democratic process to decide the future of the Island Airport lands."


I support the spirit and intent of the second Pledge, "2) if elected, to assemble a working group that includes substantial First Nations and community representation, to solidify the plan for the creation of the Waterfront Park when the Island Airport lease expires,"


Though, to my eyes it is open to multiple interpretations. This mention of the Waterfront Park could be understood as pre-empting the transparent and democratic process committed to in #1.


As such, I respectfully propose a slight revision:


"2) if elected, to assemble a working group that includes substantial First Nations and community representation, to guide, advise, and inform every step of the transparent and democratic process to decide the future of the Island Airport lands, including a potential Waterfront Park, when the Island Airport lease expires."


I welcome the opportunity to continue this discussion and find the best wording to achieve our shared goal together.


Laura-Maria Nikolareizi

Thank you for reaching out to me regarding this important community issue. As a 20 year condo owner at Queens Quay West and Lower Spadina I have a deep understanding about the island airport and how it impacts the community and environment.


I have been the School Council Chair for the last 7 years at Island Natural Science Public School and know how the airport impacts our children who attend the school.


But also we are family who enjoys to sail along Lake Ontario and that is another reason why the airport impacts us as a sailing community as well. So I get it.


Therefore it is my pleasure to work with you, Indigenous Community and other community stakeholders to support parks and no planes as a resident, as a community leader and as your next city councillor for Ward 10.


I pledge.


Andrei Zodian

I have supported in the past NoJets:


I am happy to take the pledge.


Ward 11

Axel Arvizu

I am attaching my pledge in this email, My standing on this issue is very firm. We have an under-utilized and overpriced, world class airport with direct, affordable and steady connectivity to the downtown core. We do not need a second airport for the business class. I hope to be working together in the future.


Robin Buxton Potts

Please find my Pledge attached


Adam Golding

Yes! Love it. I was just at a great event on the island, the annual "Orphan Burn" on Gibraltar beach. The airport just gets in the way,


Norm Di Pasquale

Please see attached my signed pledge. Completely committed to a consultation on the island that centres those most affected, as well as the indigenous community.


Ward 13

Nicki Ward

As an environmental and community advocate - This is absolutely a priority.

Attached is my pledge.


Ward 14

Paula Fletcher

Councillor Fletcher is a yes.


Ward 18

Lily Cheng

Please accept this yes to your request. I agree to the pledge below. I have always felt we have wrongly overdeveloped our waterfront which should be something all people in the city can enjoy.


Ward 16

Walter Alvarez-Bardales

Here is my signed pledge!


As a person of indigenous Maya ancestry, I absolutely agree that the Canadian indigenous brothers and sisters need to be substantially included in this process.


Ward 19

Frank Marra

Pledged. I support creating park spaces over airports in the City of Toronto.


Ward 20

Philip Mills

Good stuff! I absolutely agree with the process you have outlined, and would be committed to it


Kevin Rupasinghe

Please see attached. I think we should be having the conversation and working on a robust process for the future of that critical land.


Ward 21

Kiri Vadivelu

I am with you on the issue of Parks not Planes. First we need to ask, how did we get here? The answer is capitalism that continue to exploit working people to benefit a few. What happened to political leadership, democracy and justice? Unfortunately, our status quo politicians from municipal to federal, instead of addressing social problems and inequality, for the past 50 years been transferring public assets to private corporations right before our eyes. I am outraged, that is why I am running in this election to bring a system change and justice for all.


Please see my candidacy and platform at Municipal Socialist Alliance. I hope to get your support to change the status quo and make our community sustainable for the future.


Ward 22

Serge Khatchadourian

I like your idea Parks Not Planes, I am 100% with your group any time you wish to contact me please do so.


I pledge.


Ward 24

Habiba Desai

Here is my signed pledge for Parks not Planes.


Ward 25

Ashan Fernando

I am happy to take the pledge and support more parks in Toronto. Thank you.



 

[1] We used emails found in the candidate registrations, and on the Internet. We found many candidates had no publicly available campaign emails and were unable to reach them. For those who didn’t respond, we followed up with reminder emails.






281 views

Recent Posts

See All