City Council Agrees to Build Underwater Pedestrian Tunnel to Island Airport

Update: July 10, 2011 Toronto Island Airport (Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport) Underwater Pedestrian Tunnel in the Future?

Passengers that travel from the the foot of Bathurst Street to the Toronto Island Airport (Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport) will no longer have to endure the one (1) minute Ferry ride.  They will now be able to walk underground (under the lake) to and from the Airport.

This is an expensive project. A 120-metre underwater tunnel government believes will only cost $38 million to complete, but it will cost over $45 million to complete.

Council has voted to sign an agreement with the Toronto Port Authority that allows the federal agency to build a pedestrian tunnel to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

The 24-13 vote will also see a city water main project provide long-term supply and sewer service to Toronto Island residents and businesses, city officials said.

City of Toronto announcement:

Toronto City Council today authorized the City to enter into a Master Agreement with the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), which will facilitate construction of a pedestrian tunnel between the Toronto mainland and the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island. A City watermain project, which may be completed as part of the pedestrian tunnel, would provide a secure, long-term water supply and sanitary sewer service to all Toronto Island residents and businesses and save the City millions of dollars.

“The pedestrian tunnel to the island airport will provide a greater level of service for airport users and will be delivered at a significantly lower cost, saving taxpayers money,” said Mayor Rob Ford. “The City expects to save more than $10 million on its water infrastructure as part of this project and the Toronto Port Authority expects to save approximately $2.5 million to $3.5 million on the pedestrian tunnel portion.”

“The City will continue to work collaboratively with the Toronto Port Authority to make the pedestrian tunnel project a reality,” said City Manager Joe Pennachetti. “City staff have worked diligently to reach this milestone.”

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport

To implement the pedestrian tunnel project, Council has authorized as part of the agreement that:

  • The City declare surplus and convey to the TPA a dockwall easement (City owned land officially designated as Parks and Open Space).
  • The TPA convey an easement to the City to satisfy the Official Plan requirements.
  • The City enter into a temporary lease with the TPA to allow for the use of part of the Canada Malting Lands for construction staging, taxi staging and parking.
  • City staff expedite the rezoning of 450 Lake Shore Avenue West to allow for additional parking/taxi staging.
  • The City receive the conveyance of a sliver of land adjacent to the road allowance near Ashbridges Bay.

The agreement also includes a provision relating to the relocation of the Toronto Island Airport Terminal Building (known as the Administration Building or “Terminal A”) for future use. The City of Toronto recognizes the importance of preserving the building as a Heritage structure and will assist in efforts to have a third party own and operate the building in a manner consistent with its Heritage status. The Toronto Port Authority has offered to relocate and reassemble the building securely at no cost to the City.

Pedestrian Tunnel

In January, 2010 the TPA proposed a Pedestrian/Services Tunnel  that would extend from the foot of Eireanne Quay (“the land side”), through 130-180 m of bedrock to “the airport side” of the Western Gap. The proposed project includes the following components:

  • pedestrian/services tunnel access through the bedrock under the Western Gap of the Toronto Harbour, with moving sidewalks;
  • elevator/escalator/stairwell facilities at either end of the Tunnel to transition between the tunnel level and ground level;
  • connecting structures between the elevator/escalator/stairwell facilities at either end of the Tunnel and the existing Passenger Transfer Facility Buildings;
  • reconfiguration of the existing access, circulation and parking areas on the land and airport sides; and,
  • construction of an airport perimeter road using material excavated from the tunnel access.


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