Categories: Local News

Regional transit service back on the rails

The City of St. Albert and the City of Edmonton are considering creating a new regional transit service.

A joint regional transit service between St. Albert and Edmonton could soon be a reality if both city councils approve a memorandum of understanding this week.

The memorandum will appear before St. Albert city council on Monday and Edmonton city council on Tuesday. If both cities approve the move, the mayors of the two cities would inform the province they are prepared to proceed.

St. Albert Councillors Wes Brodhead and Cathy Heron both sit on the Regional Commuter Transit Commission, which is responsible for the memorandum.

Brodhead said the memorandum will determine the future of a proposed regional transit service within the capital region. Although the memorandum is currently between Edmonton and St. Albert, the commission is also looking to take a wider approach in the future.

Brodhead said the commission has worked so far with an eye to protecting the interests of large, mid-sized and small communities and has already received interest from Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan for the project.

“This really is about capturing the vision of what happens regionally,” he said.

The intention from the start was to allow other communities to come on board as well.

The memorandum of understanding marks the end of one phase of the project, which aimed to explore options for St. Albert and Edmonton to work together on transit.

Among other things, the memorandum defines a governance structure for a commission that would operate regional commuter services between the two communities.

Both communities must ratify the memorandum before it can move forward.

Brodhead said the memorandum does not ask St. Albert for a financial contribution at this point. Instead, the commission is asking the province for funding. That funding, in the amount of nearly $4 million, is a requirement in order for the project to move ahead.

“We’ve received positive indications from the province that they would participate at this formative stage, because quite honestly it aligns with what they believe regions should do – and that’s work together to provide regional service delivery,” Brodhead said.

If the memorandum is approved by both communities, Brodhead said the next step is for the mayors of each to write letters to the province indicating the cities are prepared to proceed.

If the joint transit service moves ahead, Brodhead believes it will “pay dividends” in St. Albert as well as in the other communities who are on board.

It could also help the city’s ability to compete globally.

“That requires a vision larger than being parochially centred on our own little community,” he said.

April Hudson: