All that can be said has no doubt already been said about the Edmonton municipal airport debate, afterall, it has been raging over the last decade, at least.
For my part, I am proud of our council for showing vision on this issue. Sure it would be nice to have a convenient little airport, shuttling people right to the middle of our finally reviving downtown core - except, there is, to use a term often used in the world of economics, a big opportunity cost associated with continuing to keep this secondary airport open.
By keeping the airport open for next 100 years means we miss out on the great (and rare) opportunity to put a substantial dent in urban sprawl; and we miss out on an opportunity to reinvent a large, under-utilized part of our city, not to mention miss out on the opportunity to gather, as has been well-noted here, a substantial amount of revenue for our city.
Removing the airport and replacing it with smart high-density housing developments is the responsible thing to do.We already have an abysmal and embarrassingly low rate of density in our city. Allowing thousands of Edmontonians to live close to our core is simply a more intelligent way to grow. It makes sense on many levels, economic, social, emotional, and environmental.
Obviously there are always compelling arguments on both sides of an issue, and I know closing the airport is not an attractive option for many Edmontonians, especially for those who stand to lose either income or convenience as a result. My concern however, is that the greatest number of people (by far!) will be served the most, by doing exactly what our elected council has voted for – to close the thing.
Below is a photo of a redevelopment in Montpellier, France. MF, Ali-Joe and I visited this area of the city numerous times when we stayed there a few years ago and, from what we could tell, it was a very good use of what had been an under-utilized part of the city. It was full of tasteful high-density housing, some very affordable, and some rather swanky; and it had a mix of retail, commerce, cafes etc.
***And, if you have not seen this already, here is an interesting TED talk on how cities can reclaim ”under-performing asphalt” areas, and how density is the real way to grow. (I suggest starting at 1:40 secs, watch for a bit, and then jump to 11:40).