Coun. Tim Cartmell has warned that many inside the City’s echo chamber are out of touch when it comes to how Edmontonians view transit. He’s right. And the way to change that perception is to sell it as an efficient, affordable, safe and reliable service and not some sort of vehicle for social change.
As one of its final acts of 2023, Council voted 10-3 to approve Cartmell’s request that City administration start costing out transit gates. When the report comes back in 2024, council will then decide if it’s worth it to install the gates in two LRT stations as part of a pilot project.
Aaron Paquette, one of the three dissenters, said there are already studies on the record, including one from the City of Calgary, which have shown that fare gates don’t move the needle when it comes to limiting fare evasion and increasing safety.
“It’s a lot of resources to throw at duplicating,” he warned.
But Cartmell said council has to do a better job of hearing out the public, and understanding why Edmontonians see transit as something that’s not an option for those who own their own vehicles.
“When is City Council going to stop trying to tell us that it is safe.” Cartmell said this is a refrain he hears from constituents.
“Asking for a report is not the end of the world.”
Fare gates won’t fix the strained political relationship between the City and province.
The latest brick in that wall? The Alberta government has passed first reading of a bill that would prevent the City from continuing its direct negotiations with the feds on a potential urban national park. Three councillors had already expressed reservations about ceding control of land within city borders to Parks Canada — and those reservations have been amplified by Tory MLA Brandon Lunty. He introduced a bill, widely supported by his fellow Tories, that would “ensure the province plays a critical role in the creation and development of any potential National Urban Parks within Alberta’s borders.” Basically, no talks between Edmonton and Parks Canada could happen without the Alberta government at the table, too. With the current frosty relationship between Premier Danielle Smith and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it’s impossible to see how this bill, if it passes second and third readings, would do anything but end the urban national-park process.