A centrally located, city airport is critical to Toronto's continued growth, according to new report published by PortsToronto and authored by urbanist and University of Toronto Professor Dr. Richard Florida.
The report notes that city airports, like Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ), where carriers like Porter Airlines and Air Canada operate, support businesses, provide connectivity and unlock opportunities that make a city world class.
The report comes at a time when both Toronto and its downtown airport are at an inflection point.
Both are emerging from the pandemic, and as thought goes into what the needs of Toronto will be in the coming decades, consideration should also be given to the role Billy Bishop Airport can play in building a global city.
"Billy Bishop is central to Toronto's prosperity," stated Dr. Florida in a release on Tuesday (Jan. 24). "It brings tourists and much needed revenue to the city and its urban core, which are still recovering from the pandemic. More importantly, it provides a direct gateway to leading cities such as New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Chicago, bolstering Toronto's role as a global talent and tech hub."
The report highlights the numerous benefits that Billy Bishop brings to Toronto.
This includes providing the city with a unique competitive advantage, placing travellers close to the downtown commercial centre and its cultural amenities.
Billy Bishop is among the largest providers of good, high-paying blue-collar jobs for city residents and workers – jobs that are otherwise declining and in increasingly short supply, the report notes.
Airports also generate significant demand for local services, which in turn create more and better jobs for lower-paid service workers in surrounding retail establishments, hotels, and office facilities.
Billy Bishop is projected to have added roughly $3 billion dollars to Toronto's economy in 2022, up from $2.1 billion in 2019, and an amount which is expected to grow to nearly $4.8 billion by 2025.
According to a 2022 survey, 85 per cent of Toronto residents "agree" that "Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a valuable asset for the entire city.”
Many Torontonians also agreed that Billy Bishop is a good use of land (82%); that it makes sense to have an airport downtown (85%); and that the airport plays a central role for business, health care, and job creation for the city (78%).
“By all metrics, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is an asset and a vital piece of transportation infrastructure that can propel the City of Toronto forward,” said RJ Steenstra, president and CEO of PortsToronto, which owns and operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
“More specifically, Billy Bishop Airport is a key economic driver; a creator of jobs, a connector of people and businesses; an enabler of tourism; a provider of vital healthcare through Ornge; and a good neighbour, making investments in sustainability and community. The City of Toronto is at an inflection point where it needs to shake-off the pandemic declines, and re-entrench itself as a world-class city.”
“Billy Bishop Airport is on a similar journey and is eager to work with the City of Toronto and the Federal Government on a future vision for the airport.”
With direct service to Canadian and U.S. cities,. Billy Bishop Airport traditionally welcomes roughly 2.8 million passengers per year.
The full report is available here.