Edmonton Politics

my edmonton: reshaping the urban core.

The petitions have been delivered and it appears likely that there will be a plebiscite deciding the future of the City Centre Airport lands on October 18. After a two-month long petition drive, the Envision Edmonton lobby group claim that they have collected the signatures needed to support a vote on the issue.

If the signatures are successfully validated by officials from the City Clerk’s Office, City Council will likely begin the process of creating a question that Edmontonians can vote on in the October 18 election.

As a citizen who has been involved in this debate for the past two years, I am looking forward to sharing why I support the redevelopment of the City Centre Airport lands and why I believe our City will benefit from this redevelopment.

If a plebiscite is held, it will be a heated debate with passionate Edmontonians on both sides presenting their arguments for and against the closure. Envision Edmonton has talked about turning the Airport into a hub for aviation training and industrial development. Unfortunately, their proposal has largely been overshadowed by a public feud between Envision spokesman Charles Allard and Mayor Stephen Mandel. I disagree with Mr. Allard’s position, but I recognize and respect that the Edmontonians participating in this debate want what they believe is best for our City.

A few months ago, I outlined some of the challenges and positive opportunities facing our downtown and urban core. Over the next two months I will expand on these ideas and the opportunities presented by redeveloping the City Centre Airport lands. We have a unique chance to do something that most similar mid-sized North American cities would envy. The benefits of new smart communities filled with residential and commercial development could reshape our City’s urban core for the positive. The chance to break away from the traditional urban sprawl and reshape the urban core makes me excited to call Edmonton home.

I was glad to read that former City Councillors Michael Phair and Patricia Mackenzie have also shared their optimism for the redevelopment. As the October 18 election approaches, I hope that Edmontonians will look beyond the short-term spin and participate in an honest and positive debate about how we want our City to grow in the coming decades.

6 replies on “my edmonton: reshaping the urban core.”

I also believe in a redeveloped ecca and feel that all of us will need to share our vision of a strong and vital downtown as a means of arguing in favour of an ecca closure.

Agreed. But we not only need to stress a new vision but to argue that the old one is extremely costly. For example, as today’s Journal reported, keeping the City Centre Airport will result in an additional $200 million in LRT expenditure. Of course, Don Koziak says that we should just scrap LRT expansion altogether and extol the virtues of car travel.

The costs however of an ever-expanding suburban model are immense because servicing the transportation, education, social, and utility needs of a sprawling city are so great. Our current infrastructure already needs huge expenditures to prevent urban collapse and even more sprawl will make it worse. Most people presumably aren’t keen to pay additional property taxes to support the needs of a city of unending sprawl.

I don’t mean to say that the economic argument is the only one that needs to be heard. There are many advantages to face-to-face communities that cannot be captured purely by a focus on projected civic expenditures. Neither however should those costs be ignored.

The thing that bothers me is that the information has been one-sided and misleading up til now. The other side of the argument hasn’t been presented to the public – which isn’t surprising since it’s the city that represents the closure side and people would likely be pissed if they spent half a million dollars on an information campaign to refute the BS being spewed by Envision Edmonton. So I would hope that if there IS a plebiscite that as much media attention will be focused on the reasons why closing the muni is a good thing as it is on keeping it open.

Here’s another thing that doesn’t sit well with me… what is Envision Edmonton’s REAL motivation. I don’t buy the altruistic argument. The medivac service wouldn’t be affected at all by going to the international. Who uses the muni now but politicians and corporations with private aircraft? Oh boo hoo… they’d have to take a 15 minute limo ride from the international. Breaks my heart. But that aside… there’s someone who stands to profit immensely from the muni staying open – whomever that is has thrown in half a million spacebucks into the kitty in order to force their agenda. Who might that be? And why have they sat on their hands for over a year when they could have made their arguments before council voted to close it.

As with ANYTHING like this the same rule applies: follow the money. Follow the money and you’ll find the agenda. I’ll virtually guarantee that whomever is financing this campaign has less then pure motivations.

The only reason that the EE campaign received as much publicity as it has is that people aren’t necessarily fundamentally opposed to deciding this matter through a plebiscite. It’s pretty difficult to justify opposing democratic processes.

That said, I don’t think EE should think that, just because they obtained enough signatures for a plebiscite, this means that there is a whole bunch of support for keeping the Muni open. For example, I signed the petition so that we can resolve this issue once and for all…hopefully to close the airport and proceed with appropriate development. I WON’T be voting in favour of EE’s position, it’s one that favours a small, well-funded, and vocal minority over the interests of the majority.

The Medivac issue is a non-starter. Only a small proportion of Medivac flights are critical emergency situations, and the AHS, the International airport and STARS have stated clearly that they can accomodate helicopter flights to hospitals when necessary.

Charles Allards contention that leaving the Muni open will pave the way for an air industry commercial “incubator” is laughable! If there was real interest in locating this in Edmonton, it would have happened already, and in fact, those companies that WERE located in Edmonton have already moved out. Let’s NOT get sucked in AGAIN by vague promises of industrial development that more often than not remain unfulfilled.

Now that the plebiscite seems more or less inevitable, it’s time for those that oppose EE’s narrow “vision” (which seems all about maintaining the status quo) to mobilize and organize to ensure that a more generally beneficial vision is realized.

And yes, I think eventually extending the LRT to the International Airport is desirable. It’s interesting to note that ETS’s proposal to provide bus service to Leduc, Nisku, and the International is currently being opposed by Greyhound Canada with the Transportation Safety Board, which regulates bus routing. Remember, Greyhound Canada is the organization that recently (a year or so ago) discontinued bus service to many remote communities; their interest is NOT in providing service, but in protecting their business.

A plebiscite to determine what has already been democratically decided – waste of money, time and effort. I have no need for the CCA, nor do 99.9% of Edmontonians. Borrrrrrring, move on.
How many times do we have to decide this? Elected officials – not good enough! We must have a double non-secret referendum. And if that fails, we will buy votes to make a grass roots movement to overturn the will of the people.
I disagree with you Dave, more talk talk talk is not what we need. What we need to do is determine how to effectively shape the change for ALL Edmontonians benefit.

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