Funds set aside for a transit system expansion in Chilliwack in 2023 had to be formally reallocated this week, and council members called it “disappointing.”
The $323,000 earmarked for increasing service hours on bus routes, and adding HandyDart hours will be used for road rehab instead, after the late item was added to the council agenda Tuesday afternoon.
Council voted to reallocate the money after receiving notification from the province that the transit expansion funds were being frozen, once again, for 2023.
Coun. Jeff Shields, who chairs the transportation advisory committee, called it a “real shame” that council won’t be able to make key transit system improvements this year.
Two years ago the committee started looking at the ‘Transit Future Action Plan’ for Chilliwack and FVRD, and the call by BC Transit in the plan for significant extra regular service hours, as well as $40,000 to introduce evening and Sunday hours for HandyDart riders as an example.
“Yet as we well know there is a lot of money being spent by the provincial government right now,” Shields said. “So it’s very disappointing, especially with their carbon-reducing initiatives, they never look at transit as one of those contributors to reducing carbon.”
Coun. Chris Kloot called it “baffling and disappointing” that the province once again opted not to fund Chilliwack’s transit boost, and said a letter should be sent to the province. He echoed Coun. Shields’ disappointment, describing the expansion as “critically important” for Chilliwack, and for greenhouse gas reduction as well.
Coun. Mercer suggested firing off a letter to the local MLAs, who could go directly to their government to ask the “hard questions” and explain why they decided not to go with the transit expansion.
Mayor Ken Popove suggested that maybe they could ask that the HandyDart portion of the transit expansion to be funded on its own.
Coun. Shields agreed that should form part of the ask from the province.
“Definitely we should write the province,” Shields said, adding that HandyDart service “accommodates those with disabilities, who are our most vulnerable.”
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