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

Garagellenium XX starts with pancake breakfast

Annual Oak Bay Garage Sale coming Saturday, June 8

Comic Con swings into town, June 9

Variety of cosplay prizes to be won from $100 – $450

Mayfair visitors can check out “Heartmelt Motel”

Cross-country pop-up exhibit stops in Victoria from May 29 to June 9

Canadian breaks women’s world record for longest plank

Dana Glowacka, of Montreal, held a plank for four hours and 20 minutes

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

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

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

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Volunteers already rescuing fry from drying creekbeds around Cowichan Lake

It’s early but already salmon fry are being left high and dry

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterey, Calif.

Most Read