ENVIRONMENT Last modified on May 24, 2017

On the waterfront

Gene Cabral, executive vice president of PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, reflects on the importance of being a good neighbour to ensure the gateway’s licence to grow.

At PortsToronto, we recognise the importance of employing environmental best practices throughout our business operations and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, which is located just minutes from Toronto’s downtown core, is no exception.

Billy Bishop Airport is Canada’s ninth-busiest gateway and welcomed 2.7 million business and leisure travellers in 2016. The airport is also Canada’s sixth-busiest airport with passenger service into the United States. 

The airport is a key driver of Toronto’s economy, accounting for more than C$2.1 billion in economic output each year and supports 6,500 jobs, including 1,960 directly associated with airport operations.

However, operating an airport that is part of a thriving, mixed-use urban waterfront requires the right balance to ensure that operations keep pace with the surrounding community and that measures are in place to mitigate the impacts associated with running a successful airport. 

One impact in particular is that of noise generated by aircraft and ground operations. At Billy Bishop Airport, we take noise mitigation very seriously and continue to work to minimise our airport’s noise in a number of ways. 

Over the years, we have implemented various initiatives to ensure that an effective balance is struck between commercial and community interests, and that measures are in place to mitigate noise from the airport’s operations. 

From operating a state-of-the-art Noise Monitoring System and offering free access to Webtrak – an internet-based software service that enables anyone with a computer or tablet to gather information on an aircraft they hear or see flying overhead – to policies that govern how and when certain functions such as engine ground run-ups and ferry start-ups are performed, noise management is woven into everything the airport does.

Creating new infrastructure has been an important piece in our noise mitigation strategy and, in 2015, we opened a pedestrian tunnel which enables passengers to walk between the mainland and the airport, 100ft beneath the surface of Lake Ontario. 

 This major piece of infrastructure has significantly reduced noise generated from traffic congestion in the surrounding airport community as surges in traffic have eased considerably. 

And in 2016, the airport’s two Noise Monitor Terminals (NMTs), which are the foundation of Billy Bishop’s noise monitoring system and provide ongoing noise-level data to the airport’s Noise Management Office, were upgraded and a third new noise monitor was installed. 

We have also redesigned the taxi and parking areas, added extra bike racks to encourage non-vehicular access to further mitigate noise and installed a 93-metre Noise Barrier to mitigate aircraft ground noise. 


This past April, we were proud to officially open our Ground Run-up Enclosure (GRE), only the second such facility of its kind in Canada that will accommodate commercial aircraft following engine maintenance and is designed to dampen the noise associated with high-power aircraft engine ground run-up operations. 

Managing noise is a key part of our commitment to the environment and to the wellbeing of the surrounding community, and we are always developing new and innovative approaches to further mitigate noise from our operations. 

For example, over the course of a three-year airfield rehabilitation project currently underway at the airport, PortsToronto implemented measures such as marine barging to minimise the impact of construction activities on local residents including limitations on construction-related noise. 

As the floating barge can carry 900 tonnes of aggregate material from the port to the airport in one trip, 64 dump trucks (32 each way) were taken off the neighbourhood roads. This initiative has not only accounted for 4,125 fewer truck movements via the airport’s surrounding roadways during phase one of the airfield rehabilitation project, but has also resulted in zero noise-related complaints to date.

Such innovation helped the airport win Best Noise Mitigation Program at the recent ACI-NA Awards.

From working together with the community and our airport partners on the implementation of noise mitigation policies to creating new infrastructure, the noise mitigation programme at Billy Bishop Airport
is an essential component of airport operations. 

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