when i envision edmonton…

Edmonton's inner city and City Centre Airport (top left)

A group branding themselves as Envision Edmonton are calling for a plebiscite to keep the downtown airport open. I believe that this is a tired issue in the minds of many Edmontonians, but judging by the slick television advertisements showcased on their website, this group might be in the position to spend as much money as it takes to make the airport an election issue in October. Mack Male has done an excellent job researching who is behind this group.

In June 2009, after a year of consultations and three months of public hearings, City Council voted to close the City Centre Airport over a phased period of time. That year saw some incredible public debate and citizen-driven advocacy that is not always a common sight in our city. Supporters of the airport were obviously dismayed when they could not convince Councillors to keep the airport on life-support, but many of them who I spoke with accepted the decision and moved on. I genuinely feel that a many Edmontonians on either side of this debate are simply tired of this issue, which has been debated to death over the past 30 years.

With most Councillors seeking re-election (and most likely to get re-elected) and a court challenge defeated injunction denied, a plebisite seems like the last logical step in the political process. If they are successful in collecting 80,000 signatures to force a plebiscite, one could be held in the October 2010 election.

I have lived in the Capital Region my entire life and have only used the City Centre Airport once. I will be stepping foot on the City Centre Airport lands for the second time in my life to enjoy the Honda Indy Edmonton in July. I am damn excited for the races, but I could care less if it were held on the City Centre Airport runways.

I am proud of the decision that City Councillors made in June 2009. By voting for a phased closure of the airport, Council demonstrated responsibility and made a courageous decision. They have taken up the challenge of implementing some (literally) ground-shifting positive change to how urban Edmonton will develop in the next decades. It is extremely rare for any major urban area to be given the challenge of developing such a large piece of land so close to the city core.

As a proud Edmontonian, I am very excited about the unparalleled opportunity that developing this land will give our city.

In May 2010, I wrote a two-part series describing some of the opportunities and challenges facing Edmonton’s downtown core.

It has to be Downtown
Challenges facing the Core

21 thoughts on “when i envision edmonton…

  1. Blake Robert

    I’ve lived in Northern Alberta most of my life and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve flown in and out of the City Centre Airport. Its more than just an asset for Edmontonians, its a critical piece of transportation infrastructure for all Albertans that strengthens Edmonton’s (waining) status as Gateway to the North.

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  2. jerrymacgp

    Up until the failure of Peace Air a few years ago, I also had made numerous trips into the Muni over the years, always for meetings and other business (usually related to your current Employer, in fact). However, the downsizing of service into and out of that site has contributed to a drastic escalation of the cost of flying there, and it is no longer as attractive as it once was. However, I am still not as sanguine as some about the prospect of shifting med-evac flights from the north out to the International. Only fixed-wing aircraft have the range to fly to Edmonton from Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Peace River, or High Level, and landing at YEG will dramatically increase the ground transport time to the tertiary-care hospitals in the centre of the city.

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  3. Marie

    Great post Dave! We need more Edmontonians speaking to redevelop the land! It’s time to close the airport. Let’s move on Edmonton!

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  4. Envision This

    Talk about showing up late to the party! Where were these guys and their money bags when everyone else was participating in the public hearing process?

    There is no business case for keeping the City Center Airport open. Stop the subsidy and corporate welfare! Let’s shut it down!

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  5. Dean Radey

    Good point jerrymacgp. In the 1990s I would fly from Grande Prairie to Edmonton twice a week. It was great until the prices jumped. Now that i drive to GP I have discovered that I don’t need to fly. I have changed the way my company carries out our business operations and we are more efficient because of that. Companies that don’t adapt will lose this fight.

    The companies that can afford it will move to the Edmonton Intl and drive the extra 45 minutes like the rest of us. The North is changing. Edmonton needs to change with it.

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  6. Ken

    Just because you’ve only used it once doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve an important purpose – like air ambulances. Think of the potential casualties if they have to go to Leduc.

    Keep the airport open.

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  7. Alistair

    I often use the airport to travel to and from Northern Alberta (and I’m not a rich playboy either!).

    I just think it’s crazy to close the airport and lose the valuable infrastructure Edmonton has built over the years simply because some would like a shiny new residential development or taller skyscrapers.

    Aren’t there other easier and more worthwhile opportunities for development downtown? The growing ghetto north and west of the downtown core, for example? I think redeveloping this area would be really “ground-breaking and positive change” for Edmonton in the coming decades. The bonus? We’d still have a fully functional airport located minutes from our struggling corporate community AND the provincial government.

    Just food for thought.

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  8. Scott

    Regarding the medivac flights, if I recall correctly, Alberta Health Services said that there should be no major issue on their part if the Muni is closed. Am I correct in that AHS said this? If I’m wrong, I can see where the Envision types are coming from.

    But if I’m correct, in that AHS actually said that there’s no issue, then I don’t know what people are complaining about.

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  9. MH Cameron

    The City Centre airport is a unique jewel in the heart of Edmonton, it was a city cash cow until the powers at the International Airport decided they would make that the “go to airport”, when actually now the Calgary International airport is the “go to airport” how did that happen? Politics forced the escalation of cost to fly into the City Centre. Who are we as a city? No longer the City of Champions or the Gateway to the North. Please let’s not become a backwater.
    It is time for a vision.
    Every resident should make it a mission to tour the airport with a knowledgeable guide and discover the rich past, it’s historical significance, its incredible potential, the place so many of us learned to fly and launched our aviation careers. Must every site of Edmonton history be torn down and filled to the brim with high density living space? How about first making the downtown a jewel of a place, vibrant, and a destination I was proud to take visiting tourists.
    It is time to take back the airport not bulldoze it!

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  10. fRed

    So this guy comes to my door. He’s wearing black pants, black shirt, black hat, and dark glasses. He has NO CITY ISSUED ID, which, last time I checked, was REQUIRED to canvas, and he won’t identify himself, and is extremely evasive at my questions.
    I insist on seeing ID, he takes out his drivers license and holds it almost 10 feet away. He tells me that he is paid by the Government of Canada.
    Really.
    I would have supported this initiative, but with representation like this, all I can say is BEWARE. These people are NOT on the up and up, and in my opinion are simply one step removed from the aggressive types selling power contracts.
    A little honesty would go a long way, and that is simply not being demonstrated.
    You won’t get my signature.

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  12. Channing

    People dont relize how bad the airport had to be shut down. It is a major issue for the future of Edmonton. CLOSE IT DOWN NOW!

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  13. David Leigh

    When I think of the long term, after having lived in Los Angeles, I anticipate growth, demand, and all the standard formulas that affected other cities in the world time and again.

    As our nation grows, we should be concerned with our needs 10, 25, 50 and 100 years from now. Those needs end up looking the same, city after city.

    As far as I’m concerned, right now, Leduc has an airport. Edmonton’s is in danger of being closed down.

    Los Angeles residents don’t look at an airport 45 mins away as being “their” airport. They consider it to belong to Long Beach, or Ontario. Why? Because they recognize that 45 mins is ridiculous to consider local.

    As this city grows, we need to have kept that airport open with the land cleared. We can’t afford to let it be sold to become permanently filled with corporate and residential buildings that cannot be cleared once we realize that our city can’t compete because we don’t have an airport in the CENTRE of our town.

    With the advancements in aircraft propulsion, such as vectored thrust, we will see both commercial passenger airlines and cargo transports getting bigger and bigger carrying capacities, yet requiring smaller and smaller runways.

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  14. Wayne

    Let’s expose whose behind Daveberta. Dave Cournoyer, aka Laurie Blakeman’s EA. Laurie Blakeman aka Ben Henderson’s wife, the same Ben Henderson who voted to close the airport. Very interesting!!!

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  15. taxpayer ward 2

    just read the leaked emails in the national post regardig mandal, jane batty , al maure, ann mcllellan……….mandel owns property next to the muni and will make millions from the closure…he’s been plotting for a few years …………

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  16. Taxpayer ward 2

    It is amazing the steps folks will go to in order to save the airport. Funny the funding comes from outside Edmonton and those that do fund it locally have a vested interest. Funny they divert to Mandel when they are the ones with a huge conflict. It is amazing they play both sides.

    Last time I checked AHS is responsible for health in the province not the city. Why would the city be responsible for those in the north. I understand that with the large growth in residence in the north the province is spend millions on new facilities including facilities in Grande Prairie.

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  17. AD

    Most of the growth in Edmonton is south, southwest and west. Edmonton International is much more convenient to the city’s current and future major growth areas than the ECCA. ECCA aviation history is irrelevant; decisions have to be based on economics, not sentiment.

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  18. Alexandria

    I know that pushing through means many future failures, I want to encourage Envision Edmonton to continue. I am reading today in the Edmonton Journal an article written by Karen Kleiss and Keith Gerein, they are documenting the issues…etc… My personal experience was when a friend who is an enginner in Fort Mac, was to fly in by private jet to the Edmonton Municipal Airport but had to go to the main airport south of the city, when this happened he said that most of the oil companies will never fly into Edmonton as it takes so long to get from the Airport south to the City Centre. He said that most future flights will be deflected to the Calgary airport. It takes about a full hour to get from the Airport to the City Centre in Edmonton and it also takes about an hour to fly from Fort Mac to Edmonton. If Edmontonians want future oil revenue coming into this city ‘transportation’ is a primary target. Why go back to the horse and buggy when we can get air flights into the city.

    Reply

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