Columbia Valley Pioneer staff

A group of students at David Thompson Secondary School is putting words into action by calling for more public transit to reduce carbon emissions in the valley.

Members of the DTSS Climate Club (students in Grade 9 through 12), are tired of ‘struggling’ with transportation and always asking their parents for a ride.

“We often find ourselves needing to be somewhere in the valley and having no way to get there,” said Grade 11 student Ursula MacIntosh.

This is why the the Club and Wildsight Invermere are partnering on an initiative to improve public transit for Columbia Valley residents 

MacIntosh said many locals, especially those who reside outside of Invermere, have trouble getting where they need to be and often end up having to pass up opportunities or drive more frequently. 

“These issues especially affect youth because they otherwise must rely on parents for rides. Our goal is to help everyone in the valley by having a convenient and easy public transit system, and also to reduce unnecessary carbon emissions,” MacIntosh said.

Imagine if you could just hop on a bus and get to a meeting, gathering or an appointment. This could lead to activities that people might not have considered.

“Students especially could use transit to get to sports practices, lessons, band rehearsals or work, as well as meeting up with friends,” MacIntosh said. Many seniors would benefit from this too, she pointed out.

Grade 11 student Jules Turtle said the majority of their club members are not residents of lnvermere, and the lack of public transit “certainly adds a challenge” when it comes to planning events and activities. 

“I’ve spent three hours after class waiting at the school for basketball to start because there was no way to get home and back before practice.”

One Grade 9 student had this to say about the issue: “Once, me and my siblings were stuck in Invermere because we couldn’t get back to Edgewater.”

Another Grade 11 pupil said there are students who aren’t able to play school sports because they live outside of town and aren’t able to get a ride home. “By having public transit, this enables more students to participate in after-school activities.” 

MacIntosh said because she lives in Edgewater, her options for getting a weekend job are very limited to when her parents can drive her “because the bus doesn’t run on weekends.” 

A fellow student said many people often end up driving back and forth to Invermere several times a day which is expensive, wasteful, and bad for the environment.

Teacher Michelle Rievaj said she knows several students who cannot attend after-school programs like music or sports because they can’t secure regular transportation. “Lack of transit options for students disproportionately affects families with fewer resources.” 

But the Climate Club is forging ahead by conducting a short survey to gather public input and ideas as well as data about transit usage. People can fill out the survey by using the link on the Club’s Facebook or Instagram @dtss_climate_club or @wildsightinvermere.

After the survey, students will be making a video to present to regional government about the issues that locals face with transportation. If anyone would like to participate in making the video, email [email protected].