Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and engage with a group of young Edmontonians, ages 20-30, to learn about what they want in a city.  

They talked about their dreams, homeownership aspirations, what they love about their city and what, if anything, would make them consider moving away from Edmonton.

It was eye-opening to hear that transit was listed repeatedly as a primary motivator for them to consider leaving Edmonton. In their words, our transit is “super mid” – very mediocre or very underwhelming.  

Sure, our transit could be better. I know that. Everyone knows that. But to hear that our transit system is one of the top reasons why our future leaders are leaving Edmonton truly brought into perspective how essential it is to focus on improvements.

In Edmonton, it's not really an option on whether you want a vehicle or not. We are a vehicle-dependent city, and if you wish to have any sense of liberty, you need a car.

One person shared an anecdote about when their car broke down and how, while in the shop, it took them two hours and two transfers to get to work, one way, by transit. Many more of these stories were shared. These circumstances are not feasible for anyone.

Our youth don't want to be dependent on cars, but there's no suitable alternative for them. Transit needs to be better; it needs to be a safe, feasible, reliable option. Safety aside, it can't take two hours to get to work or school.  

Although, safety is always part of the conversation. Recently I heard from one young 20-something woman that works in my office about her very negative experience on transit. A group of 3-4 severely intoxicated men would not let her get off the train at Churchill station.  She had to push past. This is scary. She won’t take it again.

These things can’t happen.

Young people represent the driving force behind innovation, cultural evolution, and societal progress. Their energy, fresh perspectives, and technological savvy significantly contribute to developing a city's economy, creativity, and overall vibrancy.  

We need our young people, their talents, and ambitions to stay in Edmonton and become the next wave of leaders and innovators.

This is the way cities thrive. In fact, it is the only way.

I will have some ideas for transit improvement in my blog next week.

Timothy Cartmell

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Honoured to be the City Councillor in Edmonton's Ward pihêsiwin. #yegcc #Wardpihêsiwin