Letter to City Council regarding the City Centre Airport

Here’s my letter to Council:

Dear Mayor Mandel and Councillors:

I listened to the public hearings on the City Centre Airport Lands last week with great interest. You heard from a large number of Edmontonians and received a great deal of information related to the airport. Unfortunately, the only thing that everyone could agree upon was that the status quo at the City Centre Airport is untenable. Which leaves two options: expand scheduled service, or close the airport.

Except that expanding scheduled service is not a viable option. There is no evidence to support the notion that Edmonton as a whole would benefit from faux-competition between the City Centre Airport and the Edmonton International Airport. In fact, expanding scheduled service would almost certainly be detrimental to both airports, and therefore to the city.

The only rational, responsible decision is to close the airport.

The arguments you have heard against this decision are flawed. Medevac patients would not be affected by closure as time critical patients could be accommodated at other facilities. Few would be inconvenienced by travel delays – the Villeneuve Airport is just ten minutes further from Downtown Edmonton than the Springbank Airport is from Downtown Calgary. Most of the economic activity facilitated by the airport would not disappear, but would instead shift. There is absolutely no factual basis for the assertion that closing the City Centre Airport would negatively affect Edmonton’s economy, let alone affect it more than the loss of one of our major sports teams.

Closing the City Centre Airport is an incredible opportunity. Removing the height restrictions of the Outer Surface will help to re-invigorate our downtown. Expansion of the existing NAIT campus will remove the need for that institution to build elsewhere, helping to curb urban sprawl. Intensification of the airport lands is wholly consistent with the City of Edmonton’s Strategic Plan and vision for the future. Importantly, this can be accomplished while celebrating the historical significance of Blatchford Field. Our city has a rare chance to build a transit-oriented community on the airport lands that is integrated, livable, innovative, and sustainable.

I urge you to vote in favour of closing the City Centre Airport.

Thank you.

Contact your City Councillors to let them know what you think about the City Centre Airport.