In light of the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) requesting $15 Million from surrounding municipalities for support in recouping costs due to the effects of COVID-19, I was motivated to focus this week's article on the considerations I hope the current council is making prior to writing a cheque.
To begin, the EIA is federally owned and is leased to non-governmental airport authorities to operate. My understanding of current legislation, the federal government receives substantial rent payments from 22 airports across Canada, including EIA, but does not provide any subsidies. From Leduc’s perspective, the relationship we have with the EIA comes down to the “Tax Share Agreement” with Leduc County where, according to the City’s website, “The City of Leduc currently receives $2.7 million gross revenue from the agreement and provides from this an allocation of $280,000 to the County for municipal administrative services and fire protection to the EIA”. The trade off, however, is that Leduc must adhere to the Edmonton International Airport Vicinity Protection Area (AVPA) regulations which outlines Noise Exposure Forecast (NEF) contour lines covering the majority of Leduc. These outline “potential” noise levels caused by air traffic in a given area. NEF’s are in place to reduce the amount of noise complaints the airport may receive by limiting the development that might occur within Leduc. In 2019, there were only four noise complaints by City of Leduc residents.
Also according to the City, “a variety of fundamental projects that the city is working on are either slowed or on hold due to the current AVPA restrictions” and that nearly 80% of projects in Leduc are impacted. Robin Ritter, the owner of the land in this photo was in the process of building a multi-suite rental property, but was denied development due his space falling within NEF. Fifty-feet from this property sits a similar development, yet Ritter is forced to leave his land undeveloped. However, the EIA was able to support over $750 Million in investments, such as casinos, hotels, Costco, and an outlet mall all closer to the runway than the NEF area that restricts Leduc’s development.
Mayor Young has indicated that with the AVPA being in place, it has forced Leduc to develop west, this could be classified as a form of urban sprawl. This has the potential in creating many negative impacts such as “habitat fragmentation, water and air pollution, [and] increased infrastructure costs (Ewing 1997; Squires 2002).” Once again, referencing the City of Leduc’s website “airports—like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal—thrive in the absence of an AVPA-like regulation and have vibrant neighbouring communities sitting adjacent to them.”