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Toronto Port Authority puts off plans to fill part of Lake Ontario for Porter airport extension

Porter Airline landing at Toronto Billy Bishop-Island Airport.

Boris Spremo/The Globe and Mail

The Toronto Port Authority is putting off plans to fill in an area of Lake Ontario near Billy Bishop Airport because it's unclear if the material would be able to support a proposed runway extension.

Porter Airlines is trying to extend the runway at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport by 168 metres at each end to allow for the use of jets.

Porter announced in April that it had placed a conditional order for 12 Bombardier CS100 jets that would allow the airline to fly to Los Angeles, Florida, Calgary and the Caribbean.

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The plan has faced vocal opposition from community leaders and several Toronto city councillors.

The port authority was already planning to fill in an 80-by-100-metre portion of the lake to prevent boats from entering an area called the marine exclusion zone.

However, the environmental assessment completed by the port authority last year didn't take into account the possibility that the fill material might have to support a runway extension.

"The enhanced (marine exclusion zone) project was unrelated to the recently announced Porter proposal," said Geoff Wilson, president and chief executive of the Toronto Port Authority, in a statement.

"Now that city council has voted to engage independent consultants to analyse the Porter proposal, it makes sense for the (Toronto Port Authority) to defer the (marine exclusion zone) enhancement project."

Among the required approvals is a change to the tripartite agreement signed in 1983 that sets out permitted aircraft at the airport.

The deal was signed by Ottawa, the City of Toronto and a predecessor of the Toronto Port Authority.

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