Alberta’s government has approved the formation of a new regional services commission for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region with a mandate for improving regional transit and mobility. The legal formation comes after several years of hard work and due diligence by Councils and their administrations, which culminated in an application submitted by the eight participating municipalities in 2020.
“This first-of-its-kind commission will go a long way to connecting the people and economies of the Edmonton region with safer and more efficient public transit,” says Alberta’s Interim Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver. “This is a great example of municipalities taking the lead to solve local transit issues. By empowering local decision-making, Alberta’s government is cutting red tape and saving taxpayer dollars.”
In its early stages, the new entity will provide regional transit to the participating municipalities in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region with the long-term vision of improving people mobility. For municipalities with established transit entities, the Commission holds the key to more efficient connections to destinations within the region and an ability to directly connect with surrounding communities. Beyond greater connectivity, municipalities can expect to see their residents’ dollars go farther, as the regional routes are shared by multiple communities. For municipalities without established transit, the formation means that transit introduction is accelerated.
“In the face of incredible financial pressure, economic uncertainty, and social isolation, never has there been a more important time to come together as a region to tackle these challenges,” says St. Albert Councillor and Commission Board Chair Wes Brodhead. “Establishing a regional transit entity allows us to pool our resources and commit to a future where people are better connected, communities are stronger, and services are more resilient to disruption.”
The City of Edmonton and surrounding municipalities stand to join the ranks of other major metropolitan areas in Canada which benefit from the increased regional competitiveness that comes with having a regional transit network. “This is a momentous event in the history of our region and while ridership numbers may not soon rebound to pre-pandemic levels, public transit remains an essential service countless people rely on every day,” says City of Edmonton Councillor and Commission Vice-Chair Michael Walters. “This new organization has a vital role to play in reigniting our economy and its purpose extends far beyond the end of this pandemic to contemplate the future of mobility and overall health of our communities.”
In the coming weeks, the Board will prepare for its first official Board meeting and continue to move at a brisk pace to stand up the Commission while the recruitment of the founding CEO progresses. “Spruce Grove has a long history of collaborating with our municipal neighbours to deliver integrated service to the region, and we are excited to see that spirit of partnership being extended even further to transit,” says Spruce Grove Councillor McKenzie. “Today’s celebration of the legal formation of the commission is the next step towards realizing our vision of a collaborative, connected, regional transit service.”
As the work to stand up the Commission proceeds, member municipalities continue to target the roll-out of regional services for mid to late 2022, thereby bringing regional mobility one step closer to reality.
For more information about the Commission, please visit sprucegrove.org/rtsc.