A jet fuel storage depot that suddenly appeared at the Toronto City Centre Airport (TCCA) is igniting an uproar among islanders.
The three fenced-off 50,000-litre tanks appeared at the south end of the runway last month and seem to be far enough away from the Porter Airlines passenger and hangar areas.
But residents fear they're too close to the Hanlan's Point ferry docks. Says Ross Bowden, a Toronto Islands park aficionado, "The school buses [for kids attending the Island Natural Science School] use those docks."
Residents are also concerned about jet fuel spills. In the past, overfilled storage tanks at the now decommissioned Shell fuel farm spilled into the ground, prompting the installation of containment curbs around the Island tanks to catch any overflow.
But CommunityAIR chair Bill Freeman points out that the TCCA is built on sandy landfill and sits only about 2 feet above the level of the lake.
Toronto Port Authority operations chief Ken Lundy assures islanders that the tanks pose no health risk. He says they're approximately 1,500 feet from the Hanlan's Point ferry terminal.
"They're all compliant with all the safety standards" says Lundy.
A full environmental assessment was not required for the fuel depot under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. But Lundy says the TPA did file an independent report.
Not reassuring words for area Councillor Pam McConnell who's concerned that the Port Authority didn't consult neighbours first about its plans. "Most federal agencies as a courtesy go through the site plan process," she says.
While Toronto Public Health officials are treating the new depot "like any gas station," Bathurst Quay resident Ane Christensen says she can smell from across the lake the exhaust from Porter planes idling, taxiing, taking off and landing.
"The toxins flow on the breeze from the lake into our downtown core and remain trapped," she says.