The South Cariboo Joint Planning Committee (SCJPC) recently received and reviewed a letter from local senior, Elizabeth Bokovay, who lives at Seniors Gardens in 100 Mile House.
District of 100 Mile House councillors and Cariboo Regional District (CRD) directors on the committee discussed the issues raised by the local senior.
In her Nov. 3 letter, Bokovay expressed concern about a lack of sufficient public transportation for seniors to access social, and other, activities in 100 Mile House after 5 p.m.
CRD Area G Director Margo Wagner noted Carefree Manor, Fisher Place and Mill Site Lodge all have bus service to special functions.
“Could they not designate a couple of other pickups? I know pickups aren’t always convenient, with being picked up at your door, but you have a few seniors, I think, down behind Save-On-Foods [Pioneer Village] and then up there [at Seniors Gardens].
“I don’t know this lady, but these people are obviously attempting to live on their own, and we should encourage them to remain in their own home, and looking after themselves, for as long as possible.”
Mayor Mitch Campsall said he wasn’t sure what the local ridership is from the three assisted living or complex care facilities, or the cost per ridership, without having the financial books handy.
However, the mayor explained he does know that expanding bus services would become “a very big burden to the taxpayers.”
He noted plenty of other people are in the same boat, so he cautioned Wagner about speaking out with any committee stance on the issue.
“I really worry about the kind of comments [we make] because we’ve got people at Forest Grove who are very upset that we don’t have bus service because there is no cab service. We had a pretty strong letter from 20 of [Wagner’s Area H] citizens about … not having cab service.
“We have to be very cautious how we word anything because I’m not sure it’s affordable.”
He added BC Transit’s involvement makes the issue even more complex, as it’s not entirely a local government decision.
Wagner said she understands Forest Grove and Canim Lake residents have issues with the lack of taxis, and added seniors there can’t use scooters to get around, with the hills and distances involved.
However, she said for those seniors who live in 100 Mile House – some of whom likely moved there to be closer to amenities – it is an entirely different matter.
“I don’t know what the dollars and cents are. I just think it’s important that we keep our seniors engaged with the community as possible.”
She asked if this is something a CRD/100 Mile House Joint Grant in Aid could address.
District administrator Roy Scott and Area G Director Al Richmond each told stories about previous investigations into adding a few bus stops, and found it was impossible to work them into the timing for current transit system’s schedule and commitments.
Richmond explained costs go up “drastically” to add staff and buses, when the ridership isn’t there to justify it. He noted just a few folks ride each bus and others all want different bus times.
District Councillor Ralph Fossum said he would bring the issue up to the Rotary Club of 100 Mile House, to see if it can offer a funding solution for expanding bus services in town or Forest Grove.
“I’m not saying they can, but I’m happy to take it back to them.”
Bokovay also asked about extending sidewalks along Alpine Avenue from Seventh to Eighth streets, and then another block down Eighth to Scott Road.
Campsall said the costs of adding those sidewalks would also create an excess burden to taxpayers.
“It would be astronomical, to even go there with that.”
He added he places some blame on decisions made years ago, some of which he placed on himself.
“It was not good planning, on where we put our seniors [complexes] … we created some of these issues.”
In conclusion, the committee decided to recommend the District of 100 Mile House council send a reply letter back to Bokovay explaining the situation and its reasons for not taking immediate action, and that her concerns will be kept under consideration in future planning.