Oilers, Eskimos-themed carousels
By Dave Cooper, Edmonton JournalSeptember 17, 2012
EDMONTON – The rich, green living wall and newly-opened boutique pubs of the Edmonton International Airport left traveller Garry Springle in awe Saturday. “I just love the atmosphere of this airport now,” he said, waiting for a flight to Kelowna in the just-opened segment of the international and domestic departure lounge. “I love this living wall, I think it is something we should add at our condo.”
The three-storey wall, with its quickly growing small trees and tropical plants, is sure to be popular now that it is just out of arms-reach for visitors who have time to relax, shop and eat in the larger departure area, the final piece in the airport’s four year expansion.
The U.S. area with customs pre-clearance opened last year and is in a separate part of the departure area.
“I have been watching the work here for some time, with the new restaurants and the living wall. This is a great place to spend time,” said Mike Derenowsky, who volunteers at the airport to assist travellers.
The wall is the focus for the new Heineken Bar, Caffe Sorrentino and the Belgian Beer Cafe — a 1920’s-style bistro offering a wide range of Belgian beers.
“There are 60 of these establishments in the world, but this is the first one in North America, although we have three opening in the U.S. later this year,” said Dirk van de Haar, a manager with Creneau International.
To capture the atmosphere of a Belgian café, managing directors Dave Fritz and Cale Inglis imported floor tiles from an old Belgian church, along with coat hooks and column decorations gleaned from European flea markets.
“This is definitely different for an airport,” said Fritz.
The trend in airports to put most of the shopping and restaurants behind the security screening area is simply because travellers have one thing on their mind when they get to the airport — to get through security.
“After that they can relax, and that is when they want to shop and eat. And we have found they also want to experience something local,” said airport spokesperson Traci Bednard.
A Discover Alberta souvenir shop and Dufry Duty-Free outlet are among the new offerings.
Some big changes were also unveiled downstairs in the Canada Border Services Agency international arrivals hall, which has doubled in size.
A larger carousel with two chutes — designed to deliver twice the number of bags — has been added to the existing two carousels, and sports fans will be delighted by what now sits atop them.
They are dedicated to the Oilers, Eskimos and Oil Kings.
“This is a taste of the spirit and energy of Edmonton. For people coming here for the first time this is the doorway to our city,” said Reg Milley, the airport’s chief executive.
“Nothing says Edmonton like its sports teams.”
The Eskimos-themed carousel, for example, features a stack of 13 Grey Cups surrounded by tough-looking offensive linemen at one end. Along the top of the carousel, concrete columns appear to be cracking apart as the team pounds through them on the way to another Grey Cup sitting at the end.
“All I can say is wow, we knew what it would look like but this is the first time I have seen it in place,” said Duane Vienneau, the Edmonton Eskimos vice-president of marketing.
“And I notice there is place for a 14th cup in the display.”
Both the Oilers and Eskimos displays include TV screens, which play team-supplied features on their players.
“We’d like to get live game coverage on their as well. Wouldn’t that be great?” said Vienneau.
Milley says the airport has grown its capacity by 50 per cent in the past four years since the expansion began, and now can handle up to 10 million passengers a year. That total is expected to be hit by 2020.
In the past 12 months, about 6.5 million passengers have used the airport, making it the fastest growing in Canada.
The new central tower for airport offices and air traffic control will open later this fall. The new 210-room Marriott Hotel — which will be connected to the terminal and feature airline check-in at the hotel — should be open this spring.
Long-range plans for growth beyond 2020 have begun, and the engineering design is well underway for a third runway, which will require the soon-to-be-twinned Highway 19 to Devon to pass around it.
“We are working closely with Alberta Transportation on this,” said Milley.
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