Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Edmonton City Centre Airport referendum petition

City clerks have just determined that EnVision Edmonton's "Demand The Vote" petition submission to keep the ECCA open is invalid as it does not have enough valid signatures.  EnVision said it had 92,000 and the city says 78,000.

This is sad.  I've thought long and hard about our 'Blanchford Field/The Muni/City Centre Airport' issue and while I was in favour and voted 'Yes' in the plebiscite way back in the 90's to consolidate large commercial service, I also signed this petition.

I still believe it's never a bad thing to have multiple airports in an urban centre as most do.  Equally, I fly out of Edmonton Int'l (YEG) on a monthly basis and do not find the drive all that bad and usually make it in 20-25 min, which is pretty good compared to many other places in North America.

Not only that, but the businesses surrounding the ECCA depend on it for some of their traffic and the hangars and infrastructure around there is geared toward there being an airport.  To take that all away is an enormous and costly undertaking.

Many blame "The Muni" for it making Calgary International (YYC) the Alberta hub, even though we consolidated larger commercial services to YEG.  YYC still has more direct flights to more key U.S. hubs and the bastards at Air Canada haven't been been YEG-friendly in that regard, reducing direct flights to places like Vegas, LAX, San Francisco, Ottawa, and even nearby Kelowna, while other airlines actually have added more.  YEG is expanding it's international side big time, will finally add an onsite hotel, and YYC is looking to add another runway.

I wasn't in favour of only allowing small planes under 12 passengers to land, 24 would be better and reasonable.  Dash 8's aren't even allowed to run at ECCA which are the planes that go to Calgary.  And wouldn't it be nice to have a flight to Jasper, plus more to Ft. Mac, and other areas. 

I believe the push to develop the ECCA lands are some 'progressive' bureaucrats' wet dream.  A call has gone out to urban designers to turn the area into a modern urban community and they don't think of Edmonton as a

Call me crazy, but I believe we already have existing areas in Edmonton that badly need massive upgrades and updates.  Plans are already underway for areas around the expanded LRT routes and downtown. 

So let's develop downtown but then take away the airport that will provide a transportation infrastructure to that downtown?  Not so 'progressive' to me.  It will be many years until the LRT actually gets to YEG.  Even then, the city will have grown so far south to Leduc that those complaining YEG is too far will wish it was even further away.  So the ECCA doesn't just affect Edmonton, but our outlying communities and Northern friends.

But I digress.  I just can't stand it when gov't deliberately makes a decision that will dramatically affect local small businesses who already pay property taxes for some big fat gov't pet project.  Not only that, the decision was too fast in order for a group to collectively obtain enough signatures for a petition.

And now it's too late.

Or is it?

So why doesn't council approve a plebiscite in this October's civic election anyway?  We had one about a country road years ago.

Or do they not want to hear from the public?


don said...

I used to live in downtown Edmonton - for five years right under the flight path of the big jets and they were very noisy - especially when it was cold out.

I got used to it. Didn't bother me.

The international is too far away from town and it was nicer to take a flight from downtown the few times I had the privilege to fly!

Anonymous said...

"Or do they not want to hear from the public?"
I take it that your question is rhetorical. The hijinks used to bar scrutineers from viewing the counting process was predictable. Developers have their sights set on the $$$ they can make with redeveloping the land and it would appear that many on council are behind them despite the greater cost of losing the airport.
The last hope is likely to be a thorough purging of city council and getting some new blood who can be trusted to listen to the voters. It was good news to see that David Dorward has joined the race for mayor. He will make a great replacement for the incumbent who has been leading this city into debt for too long, all to the benefit of a few developers.

Anonymous said...

Be careful what you wish for. Sure, Mandel has to go. Along with Mandel we need to lose Krushel and Sohi.

However, is Dorward the right guy to save the city money? He is in bed with Envision Edmonton, big time. He is supported by Cal Nichol.

He is all about spending PUBLIC money on the Arena. Before biting my head off, I agree we need the arena, I think council needs to work hard to ensure Katz Group has backing from other corporate sponsors to get it done. Tax incentives are fine, but no PUBLIC money.

Dorward would write Katz a cheque given the chance.

Michael said...

I remember the day when there was more than one "big" player Canadian Airline flying out of the Muni, and the planes weren't puddle jumpers either. I remember many times boarding a 737 at the Muni for a direct flight to Vancouver, and vice versa picking up clients at the downtown airport for business meetings.
But now, like you said its too late. The City Council has the developers' best interest at heart, and one way or another you knew they would find a way, any way to not have to listen to the people on this matter.