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.

Edmonton Indy Twitter Contest!

If you’re on Twitter, you’ve probably come across the Edmonton Stories Twitter Indy Contest. If you’re not, this is as good a reason as any to join! All you have to do is tweet your Edmonton Story and use the #yegmoment hashtag, and you could win a lap around the track!

Two lucky winners will ride with an Indy Racing League licensed driver as they make a lap around the track, experiencing the speed, thrills, turns and straight-aways firsthand. Each winner will also receive a double guest pass to the Edmonton Indy.

Your tweet should describe a moment that captures why Edmonton is special to you and explain what that moment said to you about our city.

You can see an updated list of entries here. Be creative!

I’m writing about this for two reasons. First, because I’m one of the three judges for the contest, along with iNews880’s Brittney Le Blanc and the Edmonton Journal’s Paula Simons. We have the challenge of going through all the tweets to pick two winners! Second, because I think this is a great use of social media. EdmontonStories.ca has been active on Twitter, tweeting about the city and the stories that citizens have submitted. They could easily have stopped there, but they didn’t. That’s what I like about this contest – they found a way to use Twitter effectively for more than just broadcasting.

The deadline to enter is tonight at 11:59 PM MDT. You can enter as many times as you like, so get tweeting! Full rules and regulations are here in PDF. The Rexall Edmonton Indy starts Friday and runs through Sunday.

Good luck!

UPDATE: The winners have been announced! Congrats to @prairiepaperie and @livingsanctuary!