The latest city hall debate over the future of the Edmonton City Centre Airport officially got underway Wednesday and continues for the remainder of the week.
Some of the people who have made submissions to the public hearing want the downtown airport closed and the land developed into a transit-oriented community with housing for thousands of people, along with commercial and retail space.
Other presenters have told city councillors the airport must stay open because it is vital for the business community. They describe it as a hub to the north and argue that it is critical for medevac flights. About 4,000 medevac flights a year go through the facility.
This debate is not about need, Reg Milley CEO of Edmonton Airports told the hearing Wednesday.
"What the City Centre Airport offers is a tremendous amount of convenience for corporate travellers and those people who live in the downtown area and have private aircraft," Milley said.
There is misinformation being presented in this debate, he said. For example, the downtown airport is not a hub to the north, since the vast majority of the traffic from the north, 75 per cent, goes to the international, Milley argued.
The International Airport is fully capable of taking on the medevac flights, he added. He also told the hearing the debate over this airport needs to be put to rest once and for all.
"If our community continues to avoid a decision, you are telling us to continue spending our time on a never-ending debate, one which fractures our community and pits us against each other," he said.
Several reports have been done on the airport and the impact a closure would have. There was even a public vote on the future of the airport in 1995.
This latest hearing continues for two more days. City councillors are expected to make a decision on the future of the airport in July.