Group trying to save Edmonton City Centre Airport

RICHARD LIEBRECHT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:38 PM ET

EDMONTON - A group trying to save the City Centre Airport needs another 15,000 signatures to force a public vote on closure, say organizers.

Envision Edmonton has about 65,000 signatures toward the almost 80,000 needed to force a plebescite, said spokesman Dean Braithwaite.

The group has until Aug. 25 to collect names. All signatures must be verified before they count.

With days left, Envision is targeting the Edmonton Fringe Festival with dozens of volunteers and some staff, said Braithwaite.

They also have a paid team of 10 canvassers going door-to-door on weekday nights, he said.

Envision Edmonton raised controversy when it offered to pay community groups 80 cents per name to collect signatures. One group has taken up the offer he said.

The Edmonton Airports Authority would likely step in to defend closing the City Centre Airport should there be a city-wide vote on the matter, said spokeswoman Traci Bednard.

"There is a lot of incorrect information that's part of the debate. We do believe we have a role in providing factual information," she said.

"There was a public process that was followed, the city had a year and a half of public process. Once they made their decision to close the airport, Edmonton Airports obviously undertook activities to make it happen. A change ... I don't know how we'd manage that."

Though they're racing to force a plebiscite, Braithwaite said organizers haven't planned on what they'd do if the petition works.

"I don't know what will happen if we win. We'll have to do more fundraising," he said.

The campaign so far has been funded by businesses surrounding the airport, said Braithwaite, and some individuals.

Envision Edmonton refuses to release a list of its donors.

Envision Edmonton argues the airport is essential for business convenience and medical flights. Many statements about those issues are false, said Bednard.

A judge shot down the injunction sought by City Centre Airport tenants Airco Air Charters and the Edmonton Flying Club to halt the closure in June. Both organizations are on the board of directors at Envision Edmonton.

Runway 16-34 -- one of two at the airport -- was shuttered Aug. 3.

richard.liebrecht@sunmedia.ca


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