This weekend at the Lister Conference Centre on the University of Alberta campus, about 56 youth from across the prairies and territories are gathered to learn about and discuss public transit and sustainable transportation. Leading the Way is the first regional summit to take place in Canada, other chapters of the Canadian Urban Transit Association will follow suit with their own events later this year.
The conference kicked off last night with opening remarks from Charles Stolte, Manager of Edmonton Transit and Chair of the Canadian Urban Transit Association. He welcomed everyone and shared a few anecdotes from his many years of transit experience. We also heard from Kevin Joll, Manager of Red Deer Transit. He talked about the organizations Vision 2040, an initiative to define the role of public transit in Canada for a 30-year time horizon. He shared this video with us:
Next up was our keynote speaker, Edmonton City Councillor Don Iveson. He spoke about “making a difference” and shared some of his experiences with bringing the U-Pass to life. He had four main pieces of advice for delegates:
- Make a strong argument.
- Be patient.
- Have fun.
- Walk the talk.
He noted that it takes time for public transit projects to happen, so even if you make a strong argument you need to be patient. Having fun can help you be patient, and there’s no better way to destroy a strong argument than to not walk the talk!
His slides were fantastic, and contained lots of little nuggets:
- “You come out ahead when you invest in public transit.”
- If everyone around the world lived the way we do in Edmonton, we’d need about 4 planet Earths to sustain ourselves.
- A bus with 12 people is a better investment than a Prius with 4 people. LRT, of course, is even better.
He closed with his popular video on transportation that uses Lego!
The rest of the evening was devoted to brainstorming on the six major questions posted to delegates. The questions align with Vision 2040, and by the end of the weekend each group is going to have a pitch ready to make in a Lion’s Lair competition. It should be interesting to see what everyone comes up with!
The conference runs all weekend, and includes tours of the D.L. MacDonald LRT Garage and the new LEED-certified Centennial Garage. There’s also going to be a dance party on a chartered LRT car! You can follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #LTWSummit. I’ll be posting photos of the event here.