Closure of Edmonton municipal airport "blatantly unfair", says councillor

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

11 comments


Edmonton's municipal airport finally out of runway with Council's decision

A couple of weeks back we reported on the potential closure of Edmonton's popular downtown airport by City Council. The downtown airport handles smaller aircraft and has become a vital link between Calgary and Edmonton since it was built decades ago. The much larger international airport is located a fair distance south of the city.

By way of an update, we can report that council has now voted to shut down the airport. This is a decision that is not sitting well with the business community who were urging council to keep it open.

Councillor Linda Sloan complained to the Edmonton Journal that she didn't even see the motion until hours before it was to be voted upon. She stated:

I got this motion less than three hours before this hearing. In my mind that’s not good decision making. That’s called governance on the fly.

Councillor Roy Hayter said the meeting was "blatantly unfair" as those being impacted by the decision wouldn't have time to speak to council.

Council also approved that immediate consultation be undertaken with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (they sit next to the airport) to determine what expansion plans might be feasible.

The closure is not imminent, and will happen over the course of several years. Of course, a future council could overturn this decision if they take power before the airport is completely shut down.

Edmonton Mayor Mandel was a supporter of the closure and said that council struck a "fairly good balance."

The Journal also reports that the motion supported by council will entail the following:

  • Determine the parcels of lands adjacent to runway 16-34, which is suggested to be closed, which can be surrendered to the city once air services on this runway end.
  • Conduct an environmental analysis on the lands.
  • Work with ongoing users to mitigate impacts, ease immediate transitions and develop a suitable business plan to operate the airport until a final closure date is determined.
  • Administration should develop new plans for the NAIT LRT based on lands currently impacted by the runway that is suggested to be closed.
  • Work to facilitate Medevac operations at the international airport or other regional airports before a final closure date is set.

As I wrote earlier, I think it's a big mistake for council to shut down a vital transportation hub that serviced the Calgary/Edmonton corridor. Once it's gone, you'll never see anything like it again.

11 Comments

As the former downtown planner for Edmonton 2006-2008 I can say that there's quite a wide array of issues at hand that go beyond a simple desire to close an airport, which are not touched on in the above article.

First the airport is owned and operated by the City's Edmonton Regional Airport Authority so its not like they pulled the rug out from the operator. Next there is the issue that the airport is in need of over 30 millions of dollars worth of upgrades to meet Transport and NAV Canada requirements.

Very critically, the airport approaches (flight paths) are so restrictive that in some parts of the core of the downtown building heights are limited to 10 commercial stories and even less just north of the downtown. For the 5th/6th largest city in Canada to face these restrictions right in its core has meant many lost development opportunties, lost public benefits from negotiating addional height on development approvals and it restrains the aspirations of the City to emerge as a more vibrant place than it is today.

Noxoious activities take place in the airport. I recal the contracts to service military jet crafts unleashing somic booms on the downtown, and now is home to an annual "Indy". Edmonton is a really big place spatially, and there are better places for these activities. Many of the citizens of Edmonton recal casting a ballot in favour of ending scheduled flights at this airport in order to imporve the quality of life in their neighbourhoods.

This vastly under-developed site abuts the Morthern Alberta Institute of Technology which is out of expansion room and a planned LRT station site and future extension of the line to St. Albert. Edmonton has just completed a 100 year transit plan and a regional development plan - this airport is no longer a part of these plans or the transportation network of the city.

There is no reason the existing downtown airport activities can't be accomodated in a rational and orderly manner at the 3 other regional airports provided a transition plan is put in place.

Just thought I would give a bit more context to the situation where the 9 other City Councillors that voted in favour of the closure had good reasons for their positions.

I find it interesting that this article starts with the assumption that the City Centre airport was "popular".

The plebicite in the 90's gave citizens the opportunity to express their views on the airport and the decision was made (I'll emphasize BY THE CITIZENS) to stop scheduled service to the airport. Council members commented at the time of the vote on the number of emails and other communications they received from citizens in favour of closure.

I believe this airport is only "popular" with the small number of business people who can afford to use it. The long-term benefits to the community as a whole are much better served by closing the airport. I applaud Council for their decision.

How is it that closing down an airport for those "small business" owners who create the jobs needed to keep our economy going a good thing? I'm sure if you polled citizens on a number of issues put before council (ie homeless shelters, drug treatment clinics etc...) you'd find there wasn't support. However, that doesn't mean that the elected officials shouldn't look at the "big picture" prior to making their decisions.

The airport is a big economic generator, and closing it down is real short-sighted.

Daniel, you seem to misunderstand what I said in my last comment. I was not talking about "small business" owners. I was talking about a "small number of business people". There is a very big difference.

On what information are you basing your claim that the airport is a big economic generator?

I grew up in the area near ECCA and I saw businesses close long before the plebiscite to suspend service. The airport was not generating much business in the area even when it had scheduled service. I just don't see how it could improve the economy going forward, especially given the amount of money required to maintain and upgrade the existing facility.

I believe that council did look at the big picture-and the long-term benefits for Edmonton-in voting for closure.

You may want to check your spelling in prior to your next posting!

First off, except for air shows, it's against Transport Canada regs to exceed 250 knots airspeed below 10,000 A.G.L. Even at that altitude, the sonic boom footprint could damage a lot of glass. All the time I was posted to Edmonton, I never once heard of the military breaking the sound barrier anywhere near the city.

Perhaps you have been smoking too much noxious substances.


Don't you think we are saving the earth by poluting it driving all the way to leduce or st.Albert. Our history is in that airport so why sould we dimolish our history i may not be old enough to vote but as a citizen have the right to care. The airport has been there since world war 2. Its way more conveinent and has 1 of our best orginizations in the country that police and even RCMP's use.

Im 11 1/2 but i care about our city in my futer.

I think we should keep the airport because its like history and stuff. Like ya...... So..............Ya..................Sup....... BYE!!!!!:)

I sooooooooooo agree with Sarah like we totally should keep the airport with its history and stuff!! Sooooooo ya take that society! Just kidding teehee! So ya that's all i got to say soooo ya BYE NOW!!

I worked up north and I know how important this airport is to all those communities and the business they bring to Edmonton. Anyone who has an ounce of concern for the futurre of this city will want the airport to stay. By shutting it down they are driving busines out of Edmonton. For evidence of that just look at all the hotels built in Nisku. All that business is lost to Edmonton.
When Stars lands at EIA how long do you think it will take to get the paient to the hospital. When the difference between life or death is minutes how many will die because it took to long to get to hospital.
The only thing International about the Edmonton International Airport is the name.

The present mayor and councillors that voted for closure of the airport have no appreciation for the history of this city and this Airport. Before they messed it up this airport had the most traffic of any airport in Canada. It was instramental in the development of this city. It created demand for our products and services. If I lived up north and had to choose between Edmonton International and Calgary I would go to Calgary. When I want to fly out of canada I have to fly to Calgary to catch the international flight.
I can drive to Calgary and back for less then $50.00 but a taxi to EIA cost me more then $120.00. I drive to Calgary and catch my international flight.

(Quote tricomiss)"The plebicite in the 90's gave citizens the opportunity to express their views on the airport and the decision was made (I'll emphasize BY THE CITIZENS) to stop scheduled service to the airport. Council members commented at the time of the vote on the number of emails and other communications they received from citizens in favour of closure."

They held three plebicites before they just barely got the result they were looking for. Of course they do not want to risk another vote. I am not going to vote for any of these turkeys. I suggest you to do the same.

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