Edmonton City Centre Airport closure delayed

Back in July, City Council voted in favor of phased closure for the City Centre Airport. The first runway (16-34) was scheduled to be closed by April 30, 2010, but today Council voted to delay that until October 2010 so that the Rexall Edmonton Indy can be held next year (only Councillor Batty voted against the decision). You know, the race that cost taxpayers $5.3 million last year (figures for the 2009 race haven’t yet been released). I guess this means the design competition will also be delayed.

Just last week a report suggested that air traffic may be closed for four weeks to accommodate the Indy. The only other alternative that was presented was to spend the money on a new track, a decision that probably wouldn’t have gone over very well with anyone.

The current contract with the Indy Racing League expires after the 2010 race, but City Manager Al Maurer says that discussions about a longer term agreement are underway. If the 2009 figures don’t show a big improvement from 2008, it’ll be hard for City Council to justify a renewal.

I think City Council missed an important opportunity today to reinforce their decision to close the City Centre Airport. Additionally, they’re in danger of setting a bad precedent of delays. What happens the next time Tom Hendricks or someone else goes to Council to ask for more time?

I hope this is the first and last delay in the closure process. We’re watching you City Council.

UPDATE: The Journal reports that the delay would be until July 31, 2010 not October 2010.

UPDATE2: The text of the motion is as follows:

That the City of Edmonton cooperate with Edmonton Regional Airports Authority to ensure that any closure of Runway 16-34 would not take effect until after the 2010 Edmonton Indy and Alberta Aviation Museum’s Airfest 2010.

You can download the minutes in Word here.

11 thoughts on “Edmonton City Centre Airport closure delayed

  1. Mack:

    Closing an airport is a major issue. Leaving it with one runway open is OK, but closing it means having to compensate all of the business at the airport that use it for their livelihood. Just imagine owning the Edmonton Flying Club and you’re counting on $200k in revenues that month, or having to be accountable to the corporate jet owners who have $15M planes sitting there that they can’t use.

    This was the right decision, and I am taking 100% credit for it, as my idea.

  2. Heh, yes, you should get credit!

    If you read carefully, you’ll note that I didn’t say this was a bad decision. It might be the most fiscally responsible decision at the moment.

    But that doesn’t mean that Council gets a free pass. This delay, combined with a contract renewal for the Indy, then what? Where does it end?

    They chose to avoid short term pain…does that mean we have jeopardized long term gain? I hope not.

  3. Mack:

    I agree that if this was an effort to put-off the decision, it would be a bad reason, but common-sense must prevail.

    I doubt the Indy will live past next year due to losses, but they do have a contract with the race for next year, and the cost of closing an airport instead of just delaying the closure just doesn’t make sense.

    There are many businesses that have a contract with the city for access to a functioning airport, and who would foot the bill for closing it unnecessarily?

    Both flight schools as an example would be killed with no revenue for a month.

  4. The design competition will not be delayed by this decision.

    This was a lesser evil decision, I can assure you. Despite what some may say, I think resolve remains strong on the decision from the summer.

    Indy’s another story but we’re locked in for the third year. The report on the 2009 results will be interesting. If it’s not improving and on solid track for break even by 2011 then I don’t think we’ll have to worry about where to hold any race.

  5. Oh no, Mack! It’s all unravelling! Oh, such a pitty.

    What do you think of the Hicks article about the lawsuit from airport interests? I’m hearing they’re seeking damages of 1/2 $billion. Who could be funding it? Maybe Bruce Saville, Katz, Wheaton, EEG??? If the court finds for the airport, you and your minions will may be stuck with the airport for 50 years.

    Truth be known, it was very undemocratic. None of the current councillors campaigned on this issue, or silly streetcars down Stony. Everyone on council who voted for closure is terrified that the next election will roll around without one of the runways being jackhammered. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they set up a shanty-town trailer park.

    Actually, I’m kind of glad that council has fallen under your spell. They’ll be like deer in the headlights at the next election.

  6. When the airport closes I’ll be pushing for it to be turned into park land. We could build a wonderful eco center there also. Development should be band from this area.

  7. This sure shows how much Edmonton cares about its citizens. There are about 3 fixed wing air ambulance companies(Alberta Central Airways, NorAlta Aviation and Air Tindi to name a few) and STARS that operate out of city centre. The transport time from City Centre to the surrounding hospitals is about 15-20 min and 40-50 min from the International. Obivously the city cares more about getting thier greeds mitts on the land then ensuring the care of their fellow Albertans. This does not include the other charter comanies and support services based out of the airport, which the loss of will cost hundreds of jobs. But who cares right, just as long as the developers are happy were happy.

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