In its history our airport was moved from Chebucto Road, to the RCAF Station Shearwater, and in 1960 to the place it exists now by Kelly Lake. The problem is that it’s not easy to get to. It costs $50 to take a cab, $20 to take the shuttle. Parking is expensive. The new bus service is better, but it still takes at least 40 minutes to get from downtown Halifax to the airport. The best practise for a city is to have a direct, easy, affordable transit link to its airport. This increases business and facilitates growth.
How can we do this? The easiest and quickest step would be to improve and increase bus service to the airport. This is a no-brainer. Long-term thinking offers some more interesting options.
We could add a train. LRT(Light Rapid Trains) cost roughly $25 million a kilometre to build. It is roughly 30 kilometres from the harbour to the airport; that is $750 million dollars. That is a lot. This still has not addressed the issue that to get from downtown Halifax to the airport requires crossing the harbour. More money. In the longterm, if we use the existing rail lines and ferries, these hurdles could be jumped. Are there any other options?
We are the centre of Atlantic Canada, or at least we tell ourselves we are. What if we focus on that? If we improve buses to the airport and not worry about international or long Canadian flights, is there a cost-effective way to capitalize on moving people around Atlantic Canada, and thus encourage economic growth? The easiest way to do this would be build a small airport in close proximity to downtown where cheap transit links could be added. The best part is we don’t have to build one; it already exists at Shearwater. Ferries could be run from downtown Halifax, Dartmouth, and Bedford, to Shearwater Airport. Prop planes similar to those used by Porter Airlines could be employed to move people to the other major cities in Atlantic Canada. Would this be easy? No. It would require partnership with airlines, Shearwater, and HRM to make this happen. Work would need to be done at Shearwater to fix airstrips and ensure this does not interfere with the operations of the military. Is it down the road? Yes. It is important to understand the plethora of options that exist here in HRM.