Thursday, March 31, 2011

Not an April Fool's Joke: The Peace River Bus is Done

Peace River's innovative transit system is finished, and this was abruptly brought home tonight when I spoke with a young couple who have relied on the bus for years. They are tremendously disappointed with this decision by our Town Council. In fact, I haven't spoken with anyone in weeks who thought this was a good idea. The Chamber of Commerce didn't think it was a good idea. Just who is Council listening to, besides the taxi drivers?

And as of tomorrow, the lives of this couple will once again contract to the East side of the river, to wherever they can get to by foot (he will push her in a wheelchair), and finding rides from others. Gone is the freedom and dignity they've enjoyed to choose when and where they went in this sprawling town, for an affordable price.

They and others will have to scramble to find rides to work, to college, to daycare, to get groceries, to get to the doctor or hospital. Back to having to depend on friends, scrounging rides as they can get them, or paying expensive cab fares.

And if Deputy Mayor Darling's still-in-development plan is eventually implemented, they may have the opportunity to get subsidized taxi passes if they can prove they belong to some less fortunate group that he has deemed worthy of this help.

How demeaning and disempowering. "Here's my T4 to prove I'm among the working poor;" "Here's my AISH status, my birth certificate ...") On the bus, everyone was equal and you didn't have to prove you were eligible to ride.

And now our Mayor is trying to blame staff because there hasn't been a "seamless transition" to some as-yet-to-be-decided alternative. How noble.

Has there been clear direction to staff from this Council in the form of a motion? Has Council ever clearly articulated to the public that the Town was working on something to replace the bus--if so, this is news to the riders and the concerned members of the Peace River Transit Stakeholder's Group. Why was Deputy Mayor Darling dabbling with an "enhanced" taxi pass scheme if staff had been directed to do this?  And why did NADC withdraw from doing a proper a transit study? So many questions, so few real answers. So much for transparency.

What a sad day for our town--Peace River was actually starting to look like a progressive place that welcomed all kinds of people and considered the quality of life for everyone. Now? Not so much.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tell Alberta Views About Peace River (deadline Tuesday, March 29)

Alberta Views magazine has an interesting monthly feature on communities by postal code and next up (for the June issue) is T8S--Peace River! It would be great to see a variety of responses from our residents.

You are asked to respond to three questions:

(1) What do you love about your community?
(2) What do you, well, not love so much?
(3) What would you love to change?
Submit your responses to Peter Worden at by Tuesday.