Photo Credit: NewCa.com

Billy Bishop Airport to Convert Marilyn Bell I Airport Ferry to Electric-Power


Tuesday, December 3, 2019 10:23:00 AM

- First of Its Kind in Canada, Electric-Powered Ferry Will Significantly Reduce Airport GHG Emissions and Noise Impacts. -

PortsToronto, owner and operator of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, is proud to announce that the airport's Marilyn Bell I passenger/vehicle ferry will be converted to electric-power. This innovative retrofit represents a unique technological advancement in the airport's fleet as the vessel will be the first 100 per cent electric lithium-ion powered ferry in service in Canada. PortsToronto anticipates that the ferry's retrofit will be complete by the end of 2020.

The vessel's propulsion system will be entirely powered by battery and fueled by 100 per cent Bullfrog Power® renewable electricity, enabling the electric-ferry to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the airport's ferry operation. In addition to operating more efficiently and eliminating related air emissions, the retrofitted vessel will build on the airport's award-winning Noise Management Program, as it will operate far more quietly, dramatically reducing related noise in the surrounding community.
As part of PortsToronto's sustainability program, a phased approach to greening the airport's ferry operations began in 2018 when the Marilyn Bell I was 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, dramatically reducing the airport's carbon footprint and setting the organization on a clear path toward achieving PortsToronto's overall emissions target.

"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."

"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," said 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 organization's environmental objectives and in support of the Canadian Government's 2030 emission reduction target."

In compliance with PortsToronto's Sustainable Procurement Policy, three Canadian companies that share PortsToronto's vision for sustainable operations have been selected to collaborate on completing the ferry retrofit. As developers of the winning concept and proposal, St. Catharines-based leaders in marine electrical engineering Canal Marine & Industrial Inc. (CANAL) are the prime designers for this project. On board as the project naval architect is Concept Naval, Quebec-based naval architects and marine engineers, recognized for their innovative and customized solutions in Canada's shipbuilding industry. PortsToronto has also engaged Nova Scotia-based E.Y.E marine consultants to assist with the implementation of the project.

"CANAL is proud to be delivering the first completely zero-emission Ro-Pax ferry in Canada," said Shawn Balding, CANAL Commercial Director. "This is an important step in the evolution of the marine industry made possible by maturing advancements in energy storage and power and propulsion system design."

The airport's ferry operation not only transports passengers, airport staff and essential supplies to and from Billy Bishop Airport, but serves as a vital link for City of Toronto service vehicles to gain access to the Toronto Islands. The conversion of the airport ferry to electric-power is one of Billy Bishop Airport's key capital projects and will cost approximately $2.9 million. This cost will be paid in full by PortsToronto through the Airport Improvement Fee. PortsToronto is a federal business enterprise that is financially self-sufficient and does not receive funding from any level of government.

The Marilyn Bell I is named for the Canadian icon who was the first person to cross Lake Ontario, and later the English Channel and Strait of Juan de Fuca.