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REPORTING · 12th December 2012
Walter McFarlane
Last week, on Monday December third, Kitimat City Council batted around ideas for solving the recent closure of the Bus Service from Kitimat to the Terrace Kitimat Regional Airport. They determined that the answer was to subsidize a taxi service from Kitimat to the Airport for people who are senior citizens, handicapped or who qualify for the recreation access program at Riverlodge.

After receiving feedback from the community, Council came to the conclusion on Monday, December 10th that there was nothing they could do that would appease everybody.

First off however, there was one change which needed to be made. Deputy Municipal Manager Warren Waycheshen explained there was an issue with the fair. They are setting it to $30 for one qualified person, $20 per person for more than one qualified person but what happens when there are people who do not qualify in the same cab as people who do qualify.

Acting Mayor Corinne Scott stated she was under the understanding caregivers were also included in this subsidy. She saw no problem giving the caregiver a reduced rate if there was only one caregiver per person.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff moved a motion for caregivers to receive the lower rate, but any other passengers who do not qualify for the lower rates must pay the regular fares.

“There has been a lot of discussion. Some people are very passionate about: ‘You guys are crazy! What are you doing? Blah blah blah…’ and at the other end: ‘You guys are crazy! What are you doing? You should be… There might be…’ We can’t win on this one,” said Feldhoff.

He wanted to move forward and see what happens. Feldhoff told Council if they have messed up, it will be clear by April 15th and they will take another look at it.

Councillor Rob Goffinet needed to clarify the fares. He was told Taxi’s charge a standard fare, not a per person rate. Goffinet provided the following examples. 1 qualified rider is $30 and the District pays 60 while 1 qualified rider and 1 compliant friend would pay $40 and the District would pay $50.

The way he understood the motion, 1 qualified rider and 1 compliant friend would pay $40, while the unqualified people would pay $50, rather than the rest of the $90 and save the District the cost of the ride.

Waycheshen stated in this scenario, the policy would not be taken into account and the full $90 would come from passengers. The District would not be a party to it at all.

Councillor Phil Germuth wished they had tabled it for further discussion with the residents of Kitimat.

“This is a perfect example of where you could not have everybody in the community happy with the decision we are making. We have to go by our best judgement of what we are trying to accomplish. What we are trying to accomplish was to provide a reasonable rate for our residents who required help to get out to the airport because there is no transportation,” said Scott.

Scott stated they are providing a top notch transportation system in Kitimat who have 4 people riding around every half hour. They are already providing transit to the community, now they just need to provide it to the airport.

She stated some seniors do not need a reduced rate. Others can find someone to drive them out to the airport. She wanted to add a new category for people who have to go to Vancouver on a medical issue.

She stated there are younger people who need to get flown out to Vancouver to or Prince George for operations who also need to be flown back. She stated sometimes they need to be flown back.

Germuth agreed on the grounds it is not covered under people’s health plans.

Feldhoff stated Northern Health has a bus system in place. Feldhoff stated the ambulance service covers emergencies but it might be different for surgeries. He wanted to see if there was a way this could be managed.

Councillor Mary Murphy said there still was the Northwest Connector which travels twice a day. Goffinet pointed out people would be transported by BC medical in the case of emergency.

Councillor Edwin Empinado wanted to know if the staff would be coming back to them with the mechanics. Waycheshen told Council they have been speaking with Coastal Taxi’s to put it together so they could have an advertisement to run in Friday’s paper.

Scott still wanted to know about how people who were sent to Vancouver for emergency had to make their way back home.

“The airport service does give a huge reduction for returning when you’ve had a medical emergency and of course, you can tie that in with the bus service,” said Murphy. “If you call the airlines, there is a reduction in your fair if you’re coming back.”

Councillor Feldhoff stated there have been occasions where people have been in an accident in another part of the Province and have had their operation in Kitimat. They have then been on the hook to get home on their own. However, he stated this was a Provincial issue and he did not want to get into fixing the Provincial Government’s mistakes.

Murphy stated they made the best decision they could from the information they received and are moving forward with it. The motion to not administer the subsidy to cabs containing both those who are eligible and ineligible was called and carried unanimously.
Council can and will study this to death
Comment by Larry Walker on 12th December 2012
If it is that important....then just buy a small
van/buss/whatever and provide a service to and from the airport (sure it will be cost ineffective ..but so is everything else they try and do).

If it is not all that imp0rtant...then drop it completely and get on this life.