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.