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Edmonton's City Centre Airport was the topic of a fervent public consultation in the city Saturday. ((CBC))

Hundreds gathered in downtown Edmonton on Saturday to lay down their arguments for the future of the city's historic City Centre Airport.

It's a hot-button issue, with some arguing the airport is unnecessary because of its close proximity to Edmonton International Airport, while others fervently believe it is an important part of the city.

About 150 people packed into the Ramada Hotel in downtown Edmonton to debate the issue.

City-hired consultant Stephanie Roy McCallum said there's no shortage of opinions.

"We've been hearing from people, first of all, that this issue is really important to people in all sorts of different ways. We have a heard a real myriad, a real diversity of perspectives," she said.

People are concerned about growth in the region and whether the airport is the best use for the 217 hectares of land it occupies, McCallum said.

A report released in June 2008 estimated the land, if sold, could accommodate 32,000 homes and earn the city an additional $95 million in property taxes.

However, the airport is home to a number of businesses and some argue it brings a significant economic benefit to the community.

Others say the airport is vital because medevac flights land there, and a closure would see those flights redirected to Leduc, approximately 40 kilometres south of Edmonton.

Gisela Cook, who lives nearby, said she'd like the airport to stay open because of the opportunities it offers.

"You can go fly-fishing up North if you want, you can go down to Calgary if you want, you don't have to go all the way to the international" airport, she said.

"My kids love watching the airplanes land and my youngest daughter, she'll be five, wants to be a pilot, so hopefully in a few years the airport will still be here."

More public consultations on the issue are scheduled for the coming months.

The information gathered from the public will be presented to city council in July.