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City Hall approves tunnel to Toronto island airport

City Hall approves tunnel to Toronto island airport

Toronto city council approved a deal Thursday that clears the way for a pedestrian tunnel to be built to the Toronto Island airport.

» Airports - W | Friday, July 15, 2011 • Air News Times
The federal government still has to sign off on the Toronto Port Authority’s approximately $60 million project, something they expect will come this fall.

“It’s a good day for the city, the airport is an important asset,” public works committee chairman Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong told reporters after the 24-13 vote. “We couldn’t get a bridge, so we’re getting the next best thing, we’re getting a tunnel.”

Part of the deal would see the city save $10 million by using the tunnel construction to accommodate its own infrastructure upgrade to water mains feeding the Toronto Islands. A dockwall easement the city would give the TPA allows them to build the tunnel along a straight-line route, shaving around $2.5 million off the cost of the project.

Councillor Adam Vaughan tried to scuttle the deal, arguing there were still outstanding issues his residents that live in the area wanted resolved.

“This is not a complete deal and it verges on being a very bad deal,” Vaughan told his colleagues before the vote.

After the meeting, Vaughan said residents wanted a resolution to the taxi congestion issue outside the airport ferry dock along with several other issues.

The deal would put a taxi staging area on the Canada Malting site and states that finding a solution to the congestion is a priority.

Toronto Port Authority president and CEO Geoff Wilson welcomed the deal.

“This is a very positive step for the TPA, a very positive step for the city,” Wilson said. “I think it is a win-win.”

A fixed link to the island airport has always been a touchy issue around City Hall.

Former mayor David Miller campaigned in 2003 on scrapping a plan to build a bridge to the island. The vote to torpedo the bridge was the first major decision Miller’s council made.

Minnan-Wong said reopening the bridge issue Thursday would have been nice but unlikely.

“As much as I’d like to get a bridge, I think we can all be satisfied with the tunnel today,” he said.
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