Councillors propose transit link between Edmonton and Enoch Cree Nation

Public transit service between Enoch and Edmonton would benefit residents of both communities, a Enoch Cree Nation councillor says.

'We probably have been guilty as a culture of giving lip-service to reconciliation,' says Coun. Scott McKeen

Councillors in Edmonton and Enoch Cree Nation say public transportation between the two communities would have multiple benefits. (CBC)

Public transit service between Enoch and Edmonton would benefit residents of both communities, a Enoch Cree Nation councillor says.

Michelle Wilsdon says public transit linking the community to Edmonton is a "no-brainer."

Reserve residents who don't own a vehicle currently rely on a private shuttle bus service that runs between West Edmonton Mall and the River Cree Resort and Casino during limited hours, or an expensive cab ride, Wilsdon said.

Plus public transit between Edmonton and Enoch could improve access to the casino for Edmonton-based employees and visitors, she said.

'A minor act of reconciliation'

The idea comes a year after Enoch and the city signed a memorandum of understanding with a goal of working together on areas of mutual interest. Youth councils in both communities have also been in conversation with each other.

During an interview on CBC Radio's Radio Active on Tuesday, Coun. Scott McKeen said better public transit could be a practical and symbolic move — "a minor act of reconciliation" — that would prove to the world the two communities are linked.

"We probably have been guilty as a culture of giving lip-service to reconciliation," he said.

Councillors from Enoch Cree Nation and Edmonton talk about what a transit service between the two communities might look like. 8:05

Lack of transit poses barriers

Limited public transportation options have come up repeatedly during discussions between officials from both communities, Wilsdon said.

"Transit or transportation always posed a barrier to every potential thing that we were looking at working on or at least exploring further," she said.

Wilsdon said it would make the most sense for Enoch to fold a new line into Edmonton Transit Service, rather than launch its own service, but the Nation is prepared to pay for its share of the service.

Neither councillor could estimate a timeline for the new transit link, but McKeen was optimistic it would go forward.

"This should not be too hard to figure out," he said.