Transportation across the Columbia Valley, into the Kootenays, Okanagan, and beyond has been an issue for residents in the area since Greyhound stopped its services in October, 2018.
Since then, transportation for medical reasons has proven difficult to those that have to commute to out-of-town appointments.
In May, the Age Friendly Committee presented two petitions to Town of Golden council, representing the need for medical transportation access in Golden. Currently, a medical transportation bus runs from Golden to Cranbrook on a limited schedule throughout the week. In the winter, the Age Friendly Committee conducted a survey with interest in finding out what the community’s needs are in regards to medical transportation.
Town council responded to the petitions with interest, but feels it is a larger issue that affects more than just the residents of Golden. It was suggested at the June 18 meeting that it could be brought up at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities meeting in September. However, council also suggested that it should limit the amount of issues it wants to raise, and might prioritize certain issues over others.
In June, Columbia River–Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok wrote that he has been meeting frequently with the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure to discuss rural road, medical transportation, and passenger transportation concerns, and stated he believed the minister was beginning to understand the importance of the issue communities are facing.
“He’s working at the provincial level to try to make some changes,” said Chris Hambruch, from the Age Friendly Committee. “It’s a much bigger picture.”
Because there are many parts to the transportation concerns, town council remains committed to the issue, Hambruch said.
“This was one of the issues that was discussed at length,” he said. “There is some work going on down the district… It’s quite a work in progress. There’s a lot of moving pieces.”
Some communities are increasing their transportation to ensure residents are able to use the service for medical reasons. BC Transit must first exist in a community in order to increase the service to include HandyDART.
“I think that is a missing piece in smaller communities that doesn’t work,” Hambruch said. “That’s an old rule. Let’s modernize it a bit.”
Hambruch hopes that with enough communities bringing up transportation issues, that it will become a provincial issue.
“We need to turn up the volume a little bit to the province,” Hambruch said.