In favour of closing YXD

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airplaneBelow is a letter I wrote to my city councillors regarding the vote to close or maintain the status quo for Edmonton’s City Centre Airport. I have rather strong feelings about the issue, and though they aren’t fleshed out too much in the letter below, I thought I wold share with the internets all the same… A great run-down of reports on the City Centre Airport can be found here. And Councillor Don Iveson shares his thoughts on YXD here.

Good Afternoon Councillors,

My name is Adam Rozenhart. I’m a Ward 4 constituent living in the picturesque neighbourhood of Riverdale. I’m writing you today concerning the hearings on what to do with Edmonton’s Downtown Airport. I implore you to vote in favour of closing its doors and redeveloping those lands for residential and commercial in-fill.

I’ve been listening to the discussion over the web the last three days, and I fear (as Scott McKeen pointed out in this recent column in the Journal) the pro-airport speakers have unduly influenced councillors with dire forecasts of medevac failures and the bleeding of businesses down south to Calgary.

Forgive me, but I call bullshit.

While there is no question in my mind that closing the downtown airport will have significant repercussions in this city, I see these repercussions as being extremely positive. Developing those lands with TOD in mind will bring a new energy to the City. A youthful one. I’ve spent the last five years working trying to build businesses in Edmonton while my friends have opted to leave for greener pastures — both literally and figuratively. They’ve moved to forward-thinking cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Portland. Cities where transit isn’t shunned; it’s encouraged. My friends brag about how they rarely need to drive their vehicles, how convenient it is to ride transit, and how easy it is to get around on a bicycle. They hadn’t the patience to wait for Edmonton to get its shit together.

I’m tired of having to justify to Edmonton ex-pats why I still live here. We’re still viewed by outsiders as a backward thinking small town with the footprint of a big city. It’s time for Edmonton to put its money where its mouth is. It’s time for us to draw a line in the sand and declare that we realize that tough choices need to be made; we realize that some choices are going to be unpopular; but that we realize, ultimately, this is will benefit future generations of Edmontonians.

The downtown airport lands represent an opportunity to do something uniquely green and smart with development in Edmonton. It means further intensification in the core, and it means a glut of new development. This is a good thing.

I don’t make the following statement to alarm you or to try and force you in a corner, but for me the Downtown Airport decision is a keystone decision. It means the different between staying in Edmonton in the coming years or moving to the coast. Simple as that. I love this city. I’ve lived here my entire life — 29 years. I’m an Edmonton booster. But unless City Council starts making the hard choices, stems the out-of-control sprawl taking place and starts to implement transit-oriented development and pedestrian-oriented development strategies, I will in all likelihood pull up my roots and move to a city that cares about such things.

I’m sorry this is so brief. I would love to sit down and chat with one or both of you about this issue before you vote. I want the right decision to be made for the city, not for the people who fly in, use our services occasionally and then leave. In my mind, this is a decision that must be made for Edmonton and Edmontonians.

I’ve rambled enough. Please feel free to contact me if you’re interested in discussing this issue with me.

14 Responses to “In favour of closing YXD”

  1. daveberta
    June 29, 2009 at 1:52 pm #

    “Thumbs up!”

  2. bingofuel
    June 29, 2009 at 1:59 pm #

    Thanks Dave!

    I know the letter doesn’t really go into great detail, but to me this is about two different visions of the development of Edmonton, particularly in the downtown. YXD represents an unprecedented opportunity to bring much needed population density to the core, which will help re-energize that area, allowing all kinds of ancillary businesses to support those people living there.

    It’s either that, or continue to grow out in a completely unsustainable way, potentially losing vitality in the form of innovative go-getters who crave this sort of development, and want to live in these kinds of communities. I think over the last 20 years, we’ve seen the way development shouldn’t be done. It’s time to try something different, closing the chapter on an antiquated model of development in favour of one that will result in true, positive change in the core of our city.

  3. Adam Snider
    June 29, 2009 at 2:27 pm #

    I’ve really got nothing to say other than: I couldn’t agree with you more.

  4. Mack D. Male
    June 29, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    Well said Adam. BTW: I read your blog regularly (it’s in my aggregator).

    Make sure to check out my blog tomorrow 😉

  5. mikekendrick
    June 29, 2009 at 10:46 pm #

    I’ll run the risk of being the prude here. While I more or less agree with what your letter says, I can’t help but feel that using such unparliamentary language in a professional plea somewhat weakens this side of the argument; it just makes us look all the more like the naive kids that so many of the businessmen are painting us to be.

    I know that’s how you roll, but was it really necessary to scream “bullshit” in the face of guys like Tony Caterina and Ron Hayter?

  6. Adam Snider
    June 29, 2009 at 10:51 pm #

    Mike makes a good point. I wondered the same thing, though I quickly got over it (perhaps because I feel strongly enough about the issue that I, too, would use such language).

  7. bingofuel
    June 30, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    A fair point, Mike, and certainly a valid one. Guys like Toncat and Hayter would undoubtedly cry foul over the use of abrasive language in the letter. However, were that considered reason for ignoring the other salient points contained in the letter, then I would argue they’re far too out of touch to hold office.

    Expletives can add impact, certainly, and I think the evolution of language is such that though perhaps it still doesn’t have a solid place in the public discourse, it shouldn’t be a reason to completely discount someone’s argument. Was my use of the word bullshit a juvenile move? I suppose it could be perceived that way. But I made a deliberate choice to use it (and I also use the phrase “get its shit together”) precisely because of the impact of the word.

    However, if this leads the general reading public to dismiss my arguments, then lesson learned, absolutely.

  8. Adam Snider
    June 30, 2009 at 12:48 pm #

    Personally, I feel like the expletives added to the letter. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that many of those on city council won’t feel the same way. People still have issues with the use of this type of language in public discourse. That, I think, is bullshit. But it’s also true.

  9. Mack D. Male
    June 30, 2009 at 12:56 pm #

    I think it would be very unfortunate if they ignore your letter because of the expletives. I wonder how closely they read all the letters anyway. I somehow image they have EA’s organize them into two piles (for and against) and just look at which is bigger lol

  10. Alain Saffel
    July 8, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    Well, looks like a big first step was taken. 🙂 You’ll have to stick around for a while. I think it’s going to get even more interesting.


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