Majority of Torontonians want pedestrian tunnel to Toronto City Centre Airport: Poll



    Sixty-two per cent support tunnel concept

    TORONTO, Aug. 6 /CNW/ - An independent public opinion poll has found that
62% of Torontonians' surveyed support the construction of a pedestrian tunnel
to improve access to the Toronto City Centre Airport.
    These are among the results of an annual poll conducted for the Toronto
Port Authority (TPA) by the national public-opinion research firm Pollara
Strategic Insights.
    The 500-person survey was conducted July 6-7, 2009. In addition to
probing opinions on the performance of the TPA, the survey touched on a wide
variety of topics, including attitudes toward the revitalization of the
Toronto waterfront, and the Toronto City Centre Airport (TCCA). Porter
Airlines and several other aviation enterprises operate out of the TCCA.
    In June of this year, the TPA reintroduced the decades-old tunnel concept
given the apparent dearth of Toronto-area infrastructure projects which could
benefit from the federal government's stimulus funding program. A pedestrian
tunnel underneath the Western Gap of the Toronto harbour would improve access
between the mainland and the Toronto City Centre Airport for the commuting
public. Medical patients involved with TCCA emergency medical evacuation
flights would also be key beneficiaries.
    According to the survey, 62% of respondents support the construction of a
pedestrian tunnel. Only 21% of respondents are "strongly opposed" to the
concept, while 10% are "somewhat opposed" to it.
    "In light of Toronto's need for shovel-ready infrastructure projects able
to access federal stimulus funding and create local jobs, this is the perfect
time to reintroduce the tunnel concept. The concept has four key drivers: TCCA
passenger volume increased 100% between 2007 and 2008; a tunnel has
practically no carbon footprint; it would last for generations; and, as we saw
in the Pollara survey results released earlier this week, Torontonians want
the TCCA to succeed as a commuter airport," said Mark McQueen, Chairman of the
TPA's Board of Directors. "Given the long-term benefits of this type of
infrastructure, we were naturally interested in what Torontonians had to say
about the concept. So, we put the question to them."
    In addition to improving access to the TCCA, including a new $45-million
terminal currently being built by Porter Airlines, the pedestrian tunnel
concept could also serve as a conduit for needed water main and utility
upgrades to serve residents and businesses on the Toronto Islands. The TPA has
invited the City of Toronto to consider teaming up on the project in the
coming weeks, given the City's pressing need to upgrade its core services to
the Toronto Islands.
    "The tunnel concept has been around since the 1930s when City officials
first brought the idea forward to spur on economic development," said the
TPA's Acting President and CEO, Alan Paul. "In 1935, The Globe and Mail
editorial board termed the project 'inevitable'. The undeniable success of the
TCCA, combined with the broad public support for the tunnel concept and the
TPA's overall stewardship of the harbour, presents a unique opportunity to
finally make it happen."
    "Medical patients and organs for transplants arriving on medevac aircraft
are sometimes transported in open boats over choppy water in very inclement
weather," added Ken Lundy, TCCA Airport Director. "A tunnel would give
paramedics and their patients safe, reliable, round-the-clock access to
downtown Toronto hospitals."
    The tunnel concept has received the support of several business and
community groups, local politicians as well as Canada's largest daily
newspaper, The Toronto Star ("For an island tunnel", June 8, 2009, pg. A12).
    "The island airport has proven to be a success story for the City of
Toronto," said City Councillor Karen Stintz. "(The tunnel) is a shovel-ready
infrastructure project that will result in job creation as well as enhancing
municipal infrastructure. The addition of a tunnel will result in improved
access for commuters year round."
    The Toronto Port Authority was incorporated on June 8, 1999, as a
government business enterprise under the Canada Marine Act as the successor to
the Toronto Harbour Commissioners. It is a federal public authority providing
transportation, distribution, storage and container services to businesses.
The TPA owns and operates the Toronto City Centre Airport, Marine Terminals 51
and 52, and the Outer Harbour Marina. The TPA also provides regulatory
controls and public works services to enhance the safety and efficiency of
marine navigation and aviation in the port and harbour of Toronto.
    Further information about the TPA is available on the TPA website at
www.torontoport.com.

    Relevant Survey Results

    Details: Details Pollara Strategic Insights surveyed a random sample of
500 City of Toronto residents by telephone between July 6-7, 2009; the margin
of error is +/- 4.4%, 19 times out of 20. It is the third annual survey
probing Torontonians' views of the TPA, its performance and its strategic
objectives. A key question posed by Pollara sought to gauge the potential
support for the construction of a pedestrian tunnel connecting the mainland
with the TCCA.

    
    Q25N: As you may know, access to this airport is by a short ferry ride
    across a distance of 400 feet (or 121 metres) of water. Do you strongly
    support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose the
    construction of a pedestrian tunnel underneath this waterway to improve
    access to the Toronto City Centre Airport?

    Total Support..................................................... 62%
      Strongly Support................................................ 34%
      Somewhat Support................................................ 28%
    Total Oppose...................................................... 31%
      Somewhat Oppose................................................. 10%
      Strongly Oppose................................................. 21%
    Don't Know......................................................... 7%
    Refused................................................. (less than)1%
    N Size........................................................... 500
    





For further information:

For further information: Janet MacDonald, Toronto Port Authority, (416)
863-2003


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