Census shows many St. Albertans leave the city for work

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Most St. Albert residents continue to commute out-of-town for work and the bulk of those who do drive their cars to get there.

This information was confirmed in the final instalment of the 2016 federal census data released on Wednesday which showed 65 per cent of residents travelled outside the city for work, with 86 per cent of those workers driving themselves rather than carpooling or taking public transit.

Mayor Cathy Heron said she would like to change both patterns, keeping more workers in St. Albert and making public transit a more viable option for commuting workers.

The 2016 federal census data shows some 33 per cent of St. Albertans were employed within the city limits while around 65 per cent of residents travelled outside of the city for work.

This shows very little change from the results of the 2014 municipal census, which had 36 per cent of St. Albertans staying in the city to work, with 51 per cent travelling to Edmonton for employment. Another seven per cent travelled within 50 kilometres of Edmonton.

Heron said that she wants to see residents stay in the city for work.

“The more people that work in St. Albert the better,” Heron said.

The main way that the city’s commuters are getting to their destination is by driving a car, truck or van. Some 86 per cent of commuters are driving a vehicle to work, five per cent are arriving at work as a passenger in a vehicle. Only five per cent of the city’s population, or 1,495 people, are using public transit to get to work and only three per cent walk to work. Less than one per cent of St. Albertans, just 200 people, rode their bike to work.

Heron said that one of the reasons that people drive to work rather than take transit is because it is not an attractive commuting option.

“The local routes are just not that effective if you live and work in St. Albert. The only way to change the numbers that we’ve got in the census is to reroute the local transit,” Heron said.

The mayor said that she wants to work to make public transit the preferred mode of travel for commuters.

“I want to make it convenient, cost-effective and enjoyable,” Heron said.

Heron said that she believes that transit is a good investment for the city and transit fares offer an option for a portion of cost recovery of the investment, unlike roads which need to be groomed and maintained without any cost recovery.

“My personal values are an investment in public transit is a good place to put money,” Heron said.

Many St. Albert travellers (32 per cent) spend 15 to 29 minutes in their vehicle while getting to work and they typically leave between 7 a.m. and 7:59 a.m.

St. Albert’s unemployment rate sits slightly lower than the region with only 6.6 per cent of residents unemployed. Men in the city on average have a higher unemployment rate of 7.6, while women are unemployed at a rate of 5.5 per cent.

Across the Edmonton metro region the unemployment rate sat at 8.5 per cent.

Employment data was collected during the first week of May 2016.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.