IMPROVING PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
I grew up in the Lower Mainland of the West Coast which had a wonderful transit system. The buses ran every half hour from 5 am - 3 am, hourly on Sundays and holidays. On Sundays, you could buy an all-day pass and go wherever you wanted. Every New Year’s Eve, the buses were free. I didn’t even get my driver’s license until I was 21, who needed one? The buses were safe, efficient, reliable, and economical.
I know we can improve our transit system here in Medicine Hat. Our residents, businesses, and visitors deserve it. The transit system here hasn’t improved for more than 30 years. I watch the buses go by and they are empty most of the time. That is proof of a broken system.
We need to create a bus-taking culture. Here's how we can do it:
Issue city bus passes to high school students
Have the buses run later on Friday and Saturday nights
Allow sales of all-day passes, this would especially appeal to tourists
Kiosks for payment of fares/passes by card
A Park and Ride Option for the Event Centre – traffic is crazy after events
Buses lined up after games/events
Who is the target market for transit services?
People who are too young to drive, people who don't want to drive, people who can't afford a car, people who want green alternatives, bicycle users who want to be able to take the bus to new trails (the buses are equipped with bike racks). They are the ones most likely to have jobs that require shifts outside the running hours. Our buses stop running at 10:45 pm, they should be running at least so people who work until 11 pm can take the bus home. In a perfect world, the buses would run until the bars shut down but until we create a bus-riding culture it will not be feasible. Running the buses later on Friday and Saturday nights would be a reasonable start.
More riders mean we can get more bus advertising. On-bus ads are nonexistent. Creating a bus culture means that when the City creates the riverfront development, people can take a bus downtown and parking needs will be less of an issue. Cars park at a mall or other large parking area and take a bus to the event centre decreasing gridlock after events. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Why do I believe in bus passes for students?
Currently, the province pays $549 for each eligible child for busing, $54.90/month for ten months. A city bus pass for students costs $38.75/month, $387.50 for ten months. That is a savings of $161.50 per student. There are roughly 3000 high school students in Medicine Hat if you include the Catholic school system. If just 1000 of those students got bus passes, it would bring in $387,500/ year to the City and save the school district $161,500 per year.
Think of it. $387,500.
It would mean fewer school buses on the road leading to less congestion and emissions. Parents would not need to drive their teens around; the teens would have much more freedom.
Kingston Ontario did this in 2012 – they issued bus passes to high school students and increased their student ridership by 20 times. TWENTY times!
IMPROVING DOWNTOWN AND THE WATERFRONT
Downtown Medicine Hat
Having lived here for over thirty years, I am continually amazed at how little development there is on the river. It is an amazing resource and you would think there would be one place where you could go have a meal and/or an adult beverage with a river view.
Richmond has an area called Steveston, it was considered to be the worst place to live when we moved there. When the canneries were running there was a permeating stench similar to the rendering plant we know so well. There was a dive SRO hotel with bathrooms down the hall frequented by drunks and fishermen (The Buck), nobody else went there. Revenue dried up when the canneries closed in the ‘70s, so Steveston reinvented itself. The hotel was refurbished, the closed canneries and shipyard became museums, the main street "downtown" was rejuvenated, the riverfront was developed for tourists and it became a very trendy area.
In fact, fans of the popular TV show Once Upon a Time will recognize it as Storybrooke. Many other TV shows and blockbuster films are filmed there as well. I feel Medicine Hat offers an ideal fit set. We have a beautiful river and parks, our historic downtown, Medalta Potteries, and the Stampede grounds. As well, we’re so conveniently located to the Cypress Hills, the Great Sand Hills in SK, the Badlands and hoodoos, Wild Horse, and Lethbridge and their historic bridge. We’re home to many owners of film-ready classic cars and motorcycles. Finally, it’s simple, fast, and easy to get from place to place on our road system.
NEW SOURCES OF REVENUE
Part of the new sources of revenue includes bringing in film crews, the tourists will follow with
the airing of films and TV shows.
Make Medicine Hat an attractive stop for those who like to travel by car, RV or motorcycle. For those heading to Sturgis SD in early August (when the world reopens), Medicine Hat is a perfect stopping place before hitting the border.
It is time for the City to recognize and show support to the sci-fi fans, the Trekkies, the cosplay, the comic book fans. When was the last time Medicine Hat celebrated Pi Day or even Star Wars Day? We need to support our own comic expo put on by the group Gas City Entertainment Expo. Calgary started its EXPO in 2005, it is now a huge 4-day event that attracts hundreds of thousands of people from all over. The Gas City Entertainment Expo has been working hard to build its event using its own funds. If they are given a little help, they can make Medicine Hat a destination for thousands.
Make our city more attractive to Toy Run participants, partner with businesses to make it an entire weekend event. Have a motorcycle rodeo, vendors, tattoo show. There’s so much potential.
ATTRACT NEW RESIDENTS
Covid-19 has taught us that many people can work from home. This creates a huge opportunity for us.
We need to make Medicine Hat an attractive place for young professionals to move to. Our promotional materials emphasize the arts and culture, the biking and walking trails but we are so much more.
So what attracts young professionals? Maybe we should ask them.
When I was attending Medicine Hat College, I participated in a marketing contest for a national brand. All of the students benefited by getting some real-world experience, something to put in their portfolio as well as the prospect of winning a cash prize. The company got a cheap advertising campaign as well as the insight of the young people. I would like to see the City create a province-wide or even a nation-wide marketing contest. We would have hundreds if not thousands of students researching our city all across the country trying to find reasons to move here.
One thing big city residents will demand is an efficient transit system.
Medicine Hat as a Motor Vehicle Touring Destination
An Allard family motorcycle trip.
I have been advocating for Medicine Hat for a long time. The following link goes to an entry I wrote 6 years ago nominating Medicine Hat for "Canada's Most Rider Friendly Community". The points I make are valid for people with RVs as well as those who travel by car.
By promoting Medicine Hat as a motor vehicle touring destination, we can bring in a lot of money to our city. People who can afford recreational vehicles have money to spend.
Women motorcycle riders are the fastest growing market and we have a LOT of motorcycles in Medicine Hat. My late husband was very proud to ride with our daughters and me. We women would love some venues to spend our money at. We all ride different bikes. For example, my three daughters own and ride a Suzuki, a Kawasaki, and a Ducati; my ride is a Harley. None of them are new; my bike and my youngest child will both hit the big 3-0 next year. (I am definitely the "cool gramma".)
The Toy Run itself brings in hundreds of riders from all around, one year we had about 1000 participants when you include the passengers. Every year hundreds of people set up lawn chairs on the side of the highway and the road to watch the parade of motorcycles, trikes and even some cars come through to the Stampede Grounds led by none other than Santa and Mrs Claus. The riders spend tens of thousands on toys every year— imagine how much they would spend if Medicine Hat made a weekend out of it.