This blog post will contain many references. I'm not going to post links, because places like the Edmonton Journal and other media sites have a wealth of information. If you want that, please dig it up yourself (no offense, this is just a "not enough time to dig everything up" issue for me.). No question this issue is passionate and controversial.
What gets me the most, is the arrogance of Mr. Mandel and those on City Council that have ignored what the people of the city have spoken for in the past. Yes, we allowed the "big guns" to be changed to the International (which was a needed thing). The second time we voted, the wording was SO confusing many people who wanted to maintain things, accidentally voted the other way. I really hope that Envision Edmonton will make sure that the new wording (hint, I'm fairly confident the required signatures will be gathered in time) CLEARLY states what the vote is about. So for me, most of this has to do with the way the City has handled it, and the clarity that is in my mind on the hidden things that were done in the background. For example, it's recently been found out that Stantec in Edmonton has been working on re-development plans for the airport for at least the last 2 years. Long before so-called public hearing were held. In my humble opinion, those hearings were nothing more than a way for the City to say "hey, we held hearings now piss off". All of the reports prepared for these hearings were DESIGNED to lead to the reasoning to close the airport.
There is the issue of costs. Mr. Mandel and crew have been saying "hey, we can make piles of money off this land" yet they aren't telling you the entire story (as if you aren't surprised by that). There have been articles that state we will have to pay out something like $91 million dollars in cancelled contracts. There have been suggestions of estimates that it might easily cost another $100 million (and way more) to re-claim the land from years of contaminants. One person on twitter stated that other land they are aware of that is way smaller has cost over $10 million dollars, it's been 10 years in the making, and the process is still not finished.
Where is the money going to come from to pay for this? YOUR pocket. Oh, yes, sure.. "down the road" there will be taxes paid that will *supposedly* replace and recover those costs. But who gave you that information? Yes, the City did. The same people that have said "we can make really good on the Indy", but we are at what is it so far, a $9 million dollar loss to date. The same things will happen with Expo 2017 too, but that's a totally different story. So, we have some easily seen costs that we will have to pay for and I am more than confident there will be tens of millions (perhaps even hundreds) of dollars that we have NOT thought about, that the taxpayers of the City will be on the hook for.
Ok, so let's take all of the financial data out of the picture. What about the human data side? Employment lost, businesses closed... People have said "no big deal, if the economy is good enough they will find other jobs". Cool... if that's the way you feel then PLEASE make sure you have a job to GIVE them. The key factor here is... the economy is NOT good, and the chances of these people getting something else in their same field is NOT good. Oh by the way, don't forget that if the airport is forced to close then while all of the shutdowns are happening, while all of the reclamation of the land is going on, there will be NO income to the City from taxes, there will only be COSTS that we will have to pay.
And let's also take the above "human side" out of it, employment wise, and think about the medical and police side of things. I was listening to some of the medical professional comments at the Envision open forum, and the medical community seem to be deeply concerned about potential delays of treatment for critical patients. Some responses have been "oh screw off with the fear mongering", and "what data have you to prove that". Well, if you can't "envision" the fact that winter snow storms will plug up the delivery of patients to hospitals from the International Airport then you have no understanding of what it's like to live in this city. When one of YOUR loved ones needs that critical care and can't get it... and if you don't think it will happen then you really have your head in the sand, or you don't care about *people*. Even IF that person that needs the treatment is not know to you, remember that we ARE the "Gateway To The North", and we have a responsibility as human beings to allow all of our northern friends the gift we can provide to them for health care issues. Unless of course, you could care less about anyone who doesn't live in a "big city".
Mr. Mandel and crew have shown in my mind, that they do NOT care, and many of them don't deserve to be a representative of the people.
My previous blog post contains the 3 images that Envision Edmonton has, which does allow for some NAIT expansion, and LRT access. From my eyes (and everyone knows I'm not a professional in this area) the information they have presented looks pretty decent. It allows for some expansion and development consistent with what the land has been designed and used for. It allows for the continued use by the medical profession, and it allows for the police helicopters to remain HERE in the City. If EPS is forced out of the City Center, then they have to be at the International. Oh, that's right... we need to create an office for them to be there, with a 24/7 presence too. More of those "hidden costs" that your elected officials have failed to mention to you.
For me, this matter is simple. Let the City Center Airport do what it should be doing. It exists, it's "paid for", and with proper management it can thrive and support the people that need to do their jobs their, but more importantly... it will provide the citizens of this city and our northern friends, with a SERVICE that we need, closer to WHEN we need it, and it has the best possibility to provide the urgent medical care for those who need it, when they need it.
One more thing you should ponder on. You are an "Edmontonian", you don't care about people outside the city. Or maybe you do. At some point, you... or a friend... or a relative... will be taking that little trip to Leduc, or Spruce Grove, or out to the cabin for the weekend. Something will happen on the drive, or while you are there. When STARS comes to get you, and you end up at the International Airport, and have to take an ambulance trip from there (oh... we staff ambulances there? DANG.. add that to the list of additional Edmonton support people that MUST be located there)... well, do you get the picture yet?