A few years ago, Edmonton had two airports.
The first was a site of pioneering aviation. After Blatchford Field opened in 1927, it became a “Gateway to the North” for bush pilots and northern communities and served as a vital link in Allied war efforts.
As commercial aviation grew, so did infrastructure demands. In 1960, the city opened the much larger Edmonton International Airport.
Neither airport was as commercially competitive as possible. A back-and-forth public debate began. Plebiscites in the 1990s saw a narrow mandate to keep both open, then favoured closure three years later.
Advocates favoured an airport minutes from downtown. But tradeoffs were unavoidable. Flight paths impeded new buildings. The city wasn’t generating tax revenues. Services continued to shrink.
In 2009, City Council voted to completely close the city centre airport. In its place, they imagined a sustainable new community built around people and public spaces.