City council voted 10 to 3 Wednesday afternoon in favour of a staged closure of the downtown Edmonton City Centre Airport.

The motion calls for discussions to begin with the adjacent Northern Alberta Institute of Technology about future expansion on the site, and for the city to position itself as developer of the airport lands.

The motion doesn't contain firm deadlines for full and final closure of the airport, indicating that will be determined by city council.

edm-mandel

Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel and council debated the future of the city's downtown airport at city hall Wednesday afternoon. (CBC)

"Let's not fool ourselves one bit at all, this is a motion to close the airport," Mayor Stephen Mandel said Wednesday. "It may not be tomorrow morning … it gives us time to find some solutions to some of the problems. I think people are always concerned about medevac."

The mayor described the action taken by city council as courageous, saying it's difficult to make these tough decisions.

"Is it perfect? No…. It is without question that a phased closure of the Edmonton City Centre Airport be approved and the city manager negotiate with the Edmonton Regional Airports Authority to immediately amend the lease agreement … it's very clear," Mandel said.

Three councillors voted against the proposal: Tony Catarina, Ron Hayter and Linda Sloan.

When floating the idea of a staged closure of the airport earlier this week, Coun. Ed Gibbons described it as a way to give surrounding businesses time to make a plan.