Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, located on Toronto Island, has announced it will convert its passenger/vehicle ferry to electric-power.

The airport’s ferry operation transports passengers, airport staff and essential supplies to and from Billy Bishop Airport, also serving as a link for City of Toronto service vehicles to the Toronto Islands.

PortsToronto, the owner and operator of the airport, has said the retrofit of the Marilyn Bell I ferry will make it the first 100% electric lithium-ion powered ferry in service in Canada. The ferry’s retrofit is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2020.

PortsToronto's Billy Bishop Airport to Convert ferry to electric

The propulsion system will be entirely powered by battery and fuelled by 100% Bullfrog Power renewable electricity, which PortsToronto said will enable the airport to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from its ferry operation.

The ferry will also operate more quietly, building on the airport’s Noise Management Program by reducing related noise in the surrounding community.

“Converting the Billy Bishop Airport ferry to electric power is a clear indication of how serious we are in our commitment to the environment and maintaining balanced operations with the waterfront community in which we operate,” commented Geoffrey Wilson, chief executive officer, PortsToronto. “We are proud to invest in leading-edge, sustainable transportation infrastructure that will reduce PortsToronto’s overall emissions, which is a significant step toward our organisation’s environmental objectives and in support of the Canadian Government’s 2030 emission reduction target.”

A phased approach to making the airport’s ferry operations more green began in 2018, as part of PortsToronto’s sustainability programme, with the Marilyn Bell I converted from diesel to bio-fuel, which resulted in the reduction of approximately 20 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions last year.

The electric-powered ferry is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with ferry operations by 530 tonnes.

“The retrofitting of the Marilyn Bell I to electric power clearly demonstrates how we can build a clean and efficient transportation system, create good jobs and protect the environment,” said the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport. “The Government of Canada commends PortsToronto for this initiative that will benefit Toronto communities and reduce our carbon footprint.”

Three Canadian companies have been selected to collaborate on completing the ferry retrofit with Canal Marine & Industrial Inc. (CANAL) the prime designers for the project, Concept Naval as the naval architect and E.Y.E marine consultants assisting with the implementation.

The conversion is one of the airport’s key capital projects and will cost approximately $2.9 million, the cost of which will be paid in full by PortsToronto through the Airport Improvement Fee.

Image inset: PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, announced that the airport’s Marilyn Bell I ferry will be converted to electric-power (CNW Group/PortsToronto).

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