Airport Noise Management Proposals

For: Mayor Rob Ford, Toronto City Council, Aug 1/2013

Residents of Toronto's Harbourfront experience a great deal of noise from Toronto Island Airport, and we are proposing Community Noise Standards as a possible solution for managing airport noise.

No airport in the world is located as close to people, as Toronto Island Airport. We have a unique problem here. Because of its proximity to residential neighbourhoods, Toronto Island Airport Noise must be managed more closely than larger airports, which have larger land buffers and isolated engine run-up facilities.

As Harbourfront residents live with island airport noise from 6 am until nearly midnight, all day long, every day of the year, we are community stakeholders with a legitimate interest in Airport Noise Management, and are recommending the following Airport Noise Management Proposals.

1. The City Should Use Community Noise Standards Rather Than Federal Port Authority Noise Standards.

As a federal agency, the Port Authority uses ICAO noise measurement procedures, which are theoretical noise measures, designed for certifying airplanes.

ICAO noise decibels are adjusted, averaged, and discounted to get an airplane certified, but ICAO Decibels won’t tell you what you’re hearing. ICAO noise measures do not measure noise as people hear noise, because ICAO decibels are adjusted downward by 20%, with averaging for the purpose of comparing noise levels among different planes.

The Harbourfront Community recommends using Community Noise Standards, with complete DBC decibels, instead of adjusted DBA decibels or averaged ICAO decibels. DBC Decibels are the only real measure of noise as people hear it, and should be used.

2. Engine Maintenance Run-up Times Should Be Restricted on Toronto Island.

Engine run-ups should be limited to workday hours, from 8 am to 8 pm, and banned overnight from 8 pm to 8 am.

Island airport noise is a bigger problem in the evening, when other noise subsides, and people want to relax and sleep. One example, an engine run-up can be tolerated and even ignored at noontime, but engine run-ups after 10 pm can lift you out of your seat.

Even though Engine Run-ups create the worst noise problems for nearby residents, engine run-ups can be easily managed, by requesting airlines to do their engine maintenance run-ups at other airports whenever possible.

If island airport pilots do have to run up their engines full blast on Toronto Island, at least, they can try to do it in the daytime, between 8 am and 8 pm.

The beauty of placing time limits on engine run-ups is - It costs nothing to implement this policy, and immediately solves the number one island airport noise problem. It would also help the community to end commercial flights at 10 pm, but that would require amending the Tripartite Agreement, which might not be possible at this time.

3. The Community is also asking the City to cancel overnight building permits, and to deny future overnight building permits for airport construction.

When the city issues late night and overnight permits for airport construction, perhaps city staff doesn't know how much of a problem this can cause for neighbours of the airport, as it is so close to our homes.

Airport Tunnel Drills, and Construction Trucks backing up, beep-beep-beep-beep-beep all night long outside bedroom windows, means neighbours can get only 4 - 5 hours of interrupted sleep every night. Living near this airport is like living in Headache City.

Adding overnight construction to daily airport noise means we get 24 hours a day of airport noise every day, with no break. With 24 hours of constant noise, the airport is violating the Tripartite Agreement condition of No Excessive Noise.

It's just not fair for the city to allow this much noise pollution to be imposed on people after midnight. Have we lost the human right of quiet enjoyment of our homes?

We ask the city to cancel all overnight building permits for the island airport, and to deny future overnight construction requests.

Max Moore, Harbourfront Community Association

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