Southeast Edmonton neighbourhood asking for transit service before snow falls

The chill in the air has some residents in a southeast Edmonton neighbourhood looking ahead to their winter transit options — and they are concerned.

Residents in The Hills at Charlesworth, a new community in the rapidly growing area of Ellerslie Road between 34th and 50th Streets, are asking the city to improve transit service to the neighbourhood.

Currently, there is no transit stop there. Residents have to walk about two kilometres to the nearest stop on 50th Street. 

“When I came here a few months ago I realized it’s a long walk,” said Sikendar Sood, a new resident to the area.

“Then I checked my community page and on that page, people were sharing their concerns.”

Prior to moving, Sood lived near the Century Park area and relied on public transit. Now his access is much more limited.

Sood started an online petition to get Edmonton Transit Service to the neighbourhood. So far 256 people have signed.

The City of Edmonton is aware of the distance residents have to walk to get to the closest bus stop. The area is currently an exception to the city’s 600-metre guideline — installing transit stops within 600 metres walking distance — that it tries to follow when transit planning, said spokesperson Adriana Amelio in an email to CBC News.

In early 2020, during the city’s most recent review of population and development growth, The Hills at Charlesworth did not have enough residents to warrant transit service, nor did it have roadways constructed for buses. 

As of this month however, the neighbourhood does appear to meet the city’s standard for considering an extension of service to new areas, Amelio said. So the city will consider service to The Hills at Charlesworth as part of its annual service plan, and the issue will be discussed with city council in “early 2022.”

But service won’t be extended before the winter, she added.

Sood, meanwhile, is worried about another winter without service.

“We need public transit, especially during the winter season,” he said.

The lack of transit makes things particularly difficult for many teenagers and seniors living in the area.

Hishrey Cheeneebash attends Vimy Ridge Academy, in the Idylwylde area. He leaves his house around 6 a.m. to make it to school by 8:15 a.m., and colder temperatures are making the journey much harsher.

“In winter, especially when you are walking here, it’s very cold. We just want at least a form of transit,” he said.

Socially, the lack of transit is also tough because many of his friends live closer to the school, he added.

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