It seems like everything changed in 2020. But as a new year approaches and we reflect on the past 12 months, a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic held a surprising amount of normalcy.
2020 opened with developments in the transit world – a regional transit commission, built to capitalize on efficiencies that could be found in various bus routes around the Edmonton area, came to fruition this year after several years of work by St. Albert Coun. Wes Brodhead and other representatives. St. Albert also embraced a pilot program providing free transit to low-income seniors, and celebrated the opening of the long-awaited Nakî Transit Centre & Park and Ride, which brought the closure of the Village Transit Station and a restructuring of bus routes.
Residents still continued their long, proud tradition of speaking up in 2020, rallying for or against provincial decisions over the course of the year and taking advantage of virtual public hearings at city council to voice their opinions on issues from municipal mask rules to unpopular developments such as the first design for Riverbank Landing. That civic spirit is something we hope never dims.
Speaking of civic spirit, 2021 brings a municipal election, and for the first time ever candidates can campaign all year long. We're pinning our hopes on high voter engagement and a council that will carry our city forward, responsibly, into the coming years.
We hope our current council resolves to properly weigh the risks of upcoming potential ventures, such as a municipal energy corporation, and spend tax dollars prudently in the new year – no more pickleball walls, please, especially when St. Albertans are going hungry or struggling to make ends meet. We hope our councillors remember that while their jobs are safe from pandemic cuts, many residents have had their lives upended and will need help to get back on their feet. The weight of that knowledge should help them put the greater good first in every decision they make.
In the short term, as the COVID-19 vaccine gets distributed, we hope our federal, provincial and municipal officials resolve to put the economy first, post-pandemic, and get to work bringing down our unemployment numbers. Federal and provincial aid for businesses won't last forever and we need to be poised for recovery once the money runs out. The good news is that Alberta's UCP and the federal Liberals are starting to align on this, looking at ventures such as hydrogen that could create hundreds of thousands of jobs country-wide, bring much-needed global dollars to Canada and cut down our emissions in the process.
Here at the Gazette, we resolve to stay devoted to telling the stories of St. Albertans and digging into the issues that affect all of us, and helping to make our community a better place to live.
For all our residents, we hope 2021 brings healing, prosperity and comfort, and the first steps toward recovery from a year we are not sad to see go.