Mr. Chairman, in rising to take part in this debate on transportation I am
November 22, 1968
acutely conscious of the importance of the role that transportation has played in the development of our nation and its cities, their quality of our life and prosperity. I am also acutely conscious of the role it will play in the future in determining the kind of society we will have. I refer to the sort of thing we hear and read about today in respect of urban renewal, rapid transit, superhighways, automobiles, pollution, and the advent of the jumbo jet which will increase in a very short time the outpouring of people from approximately 200 now in a stretched jet to 450 up to 700 in the space of five years.
I also have reference to the advent of the supersonic jet, which is not that far away, and the fact that we may be able to fly from here to Europe or Asia in a little more than two hours, though it may take some time longer to get to and from the airports. I am aware also of the possibility that ground effect vehicles will be used for moving people at fast speeds. All of this new technology raises the question, what will the effect be on people?
I should like to talk this afternoon about the proposed expansion of the international airport at Malton which was announced in August by the Minister of Transport. He stated this was to be a two-phase operation and that the first phase would carry us to approximately 1973 and would involve the expansion of passenger handling facilities on the ground and perhaps some modification of runways, but there would be no major changes as far as land use or runways were concerned. He was careful to point out at the time of his announcement that this was no more than a proposed expansion and that the closely associated communities would be invited to discuss compatible land use with the federal government.
At the same time the minister also pointed out that it was important to work out arrangements with the provinces in respect of handling of traffic and access. He reaffirmed this in the house last week and I think again this week. The implicit undertaking is, of course, that unless satisfactory arrangements can be worked out the proposals will not go forward in the form first suggested.
I was very happy, as I know all members from the Toronto region and indeed of this house were, to hear the emphasis the minister placed on the importance of the quality of life in reaching a decision on whether or not the proposed expansion would go forward in the form first presented. The question I think we
have to concern ourselves with is, what does the proposed expansion of Malton airport mean to the quality of life of those who live in Etobicoke, Mississagua and north?
The essential statistics at the present time indicate that at Malton slightly more than four million passengers a year are moved, that it is expected passenger traffic will build to a little more than double that by 1973, and that in the order of about nineteen million will be moved by 1985. The statistics also indicate that if this expansion goes forward the airport will handle close to 19 million people per year. There will also be a more than corresponding increase in freight handling.
We must concern ourselves with the type of aircraft that will be involved in this type of utilization as a result of the change from the jet as we know it today to the jumbo jet and to the supersonic jet with engines of greater power and, one can only assume at this stage, engines which will make more noise. Noise is the essential factor as far as the quality of life is concerned for those most directly associated with these airports.
Let me refer to the measurement most frequently used, being 100 decibels. This is considered to be above the level at which people can live with any degree of comfort; yet thousands are now being exposed to a level of this magnitude on a daily basis. With the proposed expansion to its ultimate form the figures I have-they are no more than estimates at the present time but reliable ones- indicate that about 160,000 people would be exposed to this noise level on a regular basis.
In assessing these problems in regard to Malton airport and what sort of expansion, if any, should take place, one has to recognize that at the start Malton represents a major investment estimated at $70 million with probably a replacement value very much greater than that. This is an investment which all the people of Canada have made. It is an investment by the community at large. One has to recognize the economic arguments in favour of employment, the creation of new service industries and growth. One must also recognize the needs of the traveller, whether for business purposes or for pleasure. One must recognize the claims of the pilots in respect of safety for those who would land these planes at this airport. One has also to recognize the carriers, those who are providing the aircraft.
November 22, 1968
[DOT] (3:20 p.m.)
But more than any other single factor one has to recognize the people who live close to the airport. One has to recognize their health, happiness and privacy; one has to recognize their property values; one has to recognize that when they purchased their houses they had no conception of the sort of expansion that would take place. I think one also has to recognize the special claims of the municipality. Here there is a double effect.
In the first instance there is the effect on assessment. If this expansion should go forward the municipality might well have to reduce the assessment on a substantial part of the residential area just because the land use had been made less congenial, just because it had been downgraded in value. This means, of course, less revenue at a time when all municipalities are looking for opportunities to find more.
I think one also has to recognize the additional costs involved. This is the second side of the double effect to which I referred and with which the municipality is faced. I refer in particular to the question of soundproofing schools. In Etobicoke alone, for instance, more than $600,000 has been spent on soundproofing schools. This will be no more than a rather small drop in a pretty large bucket if the expansion goes forward in the form proposed. I think one has to recognize that a capital expenditure of this kind has to be considered in terms of the whole community and planning a whole host of community services. In Etobicoke, for instance, a hospital is planned and the construction is to commence early next year. A community college is already under way. Under one set of plans the approaches to runways would be directly overhead. This problem could probably be solved by soundproofing, but at enormous cost.
But I ask, Mr. Chairman, what about some of the other effects on people? No one really knows what these effects will be. Basic research with respect to noise and its effect on people has not been carried out, as far as I know, anywhere in the world. We are able, of course, to use the decibel rating and we know that a decibel rating of 100 is reaching an intolerable noise level. Certainly it is too high for animals.
Perhaps the best way of dramatizing the problem of noise is to contemplate a warm, summer evening in a residential area, the sort of evening one might like to spend outside
the house. If aircraft with highly-powered engines are arriving approximately every 30 seconds, the noise fractures the tranquility of this setting. This is no romantic notion, Mr. Chairman; it is a fact, and the noise level will become worse. More than that, the people in the area are not able to open their windows at night because of the noise.
We do not yet know what the effects of pollution will be. We know that they may be serious but we do not know to what extent. At the present level there is every indication that they are not serious. There is not the slightest evidence in fact, to indicate that the present level of activity at Malton constitute any danger at all. But here we are considering a major expansion which will change the rules completely. There are those who say that the Malton expansion must go forward. These people justify it on the basis that the airport was there first and those who bought homes in the area should have known what to expect. I ask, Mr. Chairman, how could they know what to expect when even the experts did not know? I am referring to the experts in the Department of Transport and those who have advised the municipalities in the area. I am also referring to those involved in operating aircraft. The pace of technological change so far as air transport is concerned has moved so rapidly that it has overtaken all the planners.
For these reasons I think we have to realize that the home owner in the area has first priority. I believe there are also other important reasons that we must consider. We must consider the argument that it is more economical to have one large airport than two. I say maybe, but this has not yet been proven. I think the estimates of land assembly costs for one large airport are well underestimated. I think one has to give full consideration to the whole question of waste, in the sense that if we build one large airport we will in my view have to start in 15 years to tear part of it down because we will have to have a second airport in any event. Toronto international airport will reach the saturation point in 1985. This means only one thing, that we must have a second airport. If this is true, let us start now acquiring the land for a second airport. Let us start planning and let us prevent the ultimate waste that a decision to build one large airport would involve.
I think we also have to look into the question of the social effects, again from the economic point of view and the point of view of the people concerned. If one looks at the cost
November 22. 1968
savings of one large airport versus two, one can say there are certain savings so far as the airline companies are concerned in the sense that they do not have to duplicate facilities right away. But there are other factors involved. There is the cost of soundproofing which I have mentioned. There is the cost of land and the congestion that will be caused. There is the factor of human cost which we cannot quantify. I refer to the costs that affect people.
I would like to read two short extracts from letters I have received, and may I say I have received several hundred letters on this subject. This letter was written by a family living close to the airport and one of the runways. It reads in part as follows:
This past summer, the noise from aircraft coming in to land was deafening. Not to mention the pollution from exhaust and the vibration from the motors causing damage to the structure of our houses. That was last summer. Project this into 1980 and the condition will be intolerable-a health hazard with delayed and far-reaching results. . . All surveys and technical reports on aircraft expansion at other cities in the US. favour decentralizing facilities rather than expanding existing outlets.
[DOT] (3:30 p.m.)
I have one other letter, Mr. Chairman. It reads as follows:
Do not destroy our home, please. We are against the plan to expand the airport. These new planes ... won't give us a day of peace.
That is typical of the kinds of letters which are arriving and which have to do with the proposed expansion. In the light of these representations and in the light of the arguments I have advanced, I strongly urge that the one big airport concept is wrong and should be abandoned in favour of a two airport plan; and further that we should proceed with a modified intermediate stage.
I do not argue that Malton airport should be closed down but I do argue that we ought to limit its expansion and start immediately to plan a second airport which would be built in conjunction with and in harmony with Malton international airport.
Topic: DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT