Hunter Lastiwka spreads sustainability awareness and engages his fellow students in conversation about green issues. (Nick Murray/News Staff)

Greater Victoria youth rally around no-user-fee transit idea

New generation of student leaders emerging, sustainability top of their agenda

The idea of user-fee free bus travel seems to be gaining traction, as policy makers and youth activists explore how citizens can shrink their carbon footprints.

In recent weeks, no user-fee bus travel has been discussed across B.C. and in Greater Victoria’s municipalities, with Central Saanich Council voting Monday to request the Saanich Peninsula’s Transport Commissioner appear before them to discuss transport issues, including free transit. And the idea doesn’t seem limited to council, with growing community support seen, especially in schools.

ALSO READ: Central Saanich councillor wants free transit for all

The Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association came out in support of the idea May 8, calling for “free, expanded transit in response to the climate emergency.”

The week before, a Grade 12 student at Stelly’s, Hunter Lastiwka, polled a representative cross section of the school and found his fellow students 94 per cent in favour of no user-fee transit.

On May 24, Parkland School is hosting a big debate on the issue, while student groups at UVic are gearing up for a campaign on the issue soon.

Add the two Greater Victoria school walk-outs and an Extinction Rebellion march, and it appears that climate change and sustainability have emerged as key issues for youth.

Buoyed by such events and mobilized across the world through the internet, a new generation of student leaders appears to be emerging, with some calling environmental concerns “our generation’s Vietnam.”

Lastiwka is one of a growing number of engaged youth; running recycling initiatives, doing charity work in Africa, speaking at a Community Earth event and the ProRep Rally. Last summer he travelled to Parliament Hill and spent a week as the guest of Green Party leader Elizabeth May, talking to politicians and cabinet ministers about sustainability.

ALSO READ: Scuba scientists help save endangered marine life off Vancouver Island

Lastiwka, like many of the new breed of activist, are articulate high-achievers, determined to be heard. He’s set to study international economics at UBC on a big scholarship, keen to approach environmental issues by linking human experience to hard data.

While the sample referendum of Grade 9 to 12 Stelly’s students is certainly not a complete picture of all students’ feelings across B.C., it does provide an insight into the current youth mood.

“We all know the climate is changing, but a lot of us think just doing our composting is going to save the world, but it’s not going to happen. If we can have efficient green transit in our cities, I see that as a solution. But there needs to be an incentive. I think the only way to begin this is the incentive of free bus passes.”

ALSO READ: What leisure facilities and programs would you like to see in Central Saanich?

Lastiwka adds that user-fee free bus passes should start with youth to normalize bus travel later in life. He also says increasing ridership would force BC Transit to add more buses and routes, making it a cheap, attractive alternative for commuters.

Many youth activists see this issue as an important first step on the road to a more sustainable future, such as creating jobs in clean energy and diverting excess Canadian hydroelecric power from U.S. markets back to Canadian provinces.

The big question remaining is how to pay for it. Passenger revenues in the Victoria Regional Transit System as a whole were $40.8 million in 2017/18.

With the recent youth climate movement showing no signs of abating, the debate is likely to continue.



nick.murray@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Just Posted

Sooke woman is ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at Thetis Lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

Throwback Thursday: Shamrocks revisit the 1950s with new uniforms

Victoria team introduces its new white jersey for the 2019 70th anniversary season

Comic Con announces winning artist in $500 ViGuy competition

Van Isle Comic Con announce judges’ award winner, People’s Choice voting now open

Commuter Challenge proves biking to work was the faster option on Wednesday

Greater Victoria teams raced from across the region to a downtown finish line

Victorian makes gridlock fun with traffic bingo

How far into your drive before you yell BINGO?

VIDEO: Journey of SD62 Aboriginal graduates recognized at ceremony

‘Enriching and empowering’ ceremony encourages students to hold onto their identities

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Brewpub offers ‘boat valet’ for paddlers during Surfrider celebration tonight

Free ‘Surf Formal’ evening features a local art auction, door prizes, live music

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Building a close-knit community in Sooke

Knit 2 Purl Together a community event

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Man in B.C. charged with murder and arson in 2016 New Brunswick death

He is charged in the death of 71-year-old Lucille Maltais, who was found inside a burned down home

Most Read