Monday, December 28, 2009

An ONLINE application?

Working on the 2009 community spirit application, I notice this comment on page 2 of the application:

NEW Online Application - Organizations are invited to submit an application using the online application form. See the program website for details.

Organizations may also apply by submitting a completed application that has been down loaded from the program website

Yet on Page 3, the application states:
Faxed or emailed applications will not be accepted.

Is it possible that someone has missed the definition of "online application?"

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stelmach has failed Alberta's disabled, say critics

We could not have said this any better...

Stelmach has failed Alberta's disabled, say critics: "CALGARY -

Premier Ed Stelmach has broken his promise to take care of Alberta's most vulnerable, say social agencies across Alberta, following the province's $11-million cut in funding for people with developmental disabilities.

Clients and support groups say the announced cuts and further clawbacks expected in the February budget will seriously erode the quality of life for 9,200 Albertans who rely on the financial support.

The Tory government informed social agencies over the past few weeks it will cut $11 million, or roughly two per cent, out of the fiscal year's program budget for Persons with Development Disabilities despite promising a funding increase of $33 million. The cut reduces the increase to $22 million."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mount Royal University - Disability Policy in Alberta

Mount Royal University - Nonprofit Resources - Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Disability Policy in Alberta

This initial exploration of transition implications, emerged out of a policy project funded by the Max Bell Foundation. This policy study examined the range of provincial policy envelopes that impact a person with a developmental disability over the course of their life. Focusing on the major transitions, the study presents how service providing organizations work across policy boundaries, and how they see the effects of those transitions on families and individuals. Disability Policy in Alberta identifies six major themes that describe the experience of negotiating a transition point.

we found this paragraph enlightening:
Several agencies talked about disconnects within PDD itself. For example, the interpretation of the Act, especially regarding costs for the services provided and paid for, leads to several inconsistencies. Codes for service provision may vary from service provider to service provider and between the six regions which may negatively affect funding for service providers and/or individuals. Reporting mechanisms often do not reflect what was negotiated for a contract which also affects funding. While the Auditor General advises agencies not to sign contracts that might put the agency at risk or in an adverse situation, agencies indicated that PDD requires them to sign contracts as presented.

Families who live below the poverty line face considerable difficulties when they have a child with disabilities. These families have other basic needs issues which need to be addressed before they can address their child’s specific disability issues. External barriers related to housing and transportation make it difficult for families to access services. Agencies identified inadequate levels of support impacting poverty rates and quality of life for people with disabilities and their families.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Westlock News Editorial

Westlock News

EDITORIAL - December 8, 2009

Debate needed

News Staff

Although the town may not be pleased with the move, the county's decision to bow out of the Westlock and District Transportation Committee - the handi-bus service - isn't an unreasonable one.

At this point, most people reading this editorial are probably going "what handi-bus service?" Which, of course, is part of the problem.

In fact, the transportation committee - and by extension, the handi-bus service - has been around in one form or another for the better part of 25 years.

The handi-bus is used to shuttle seniors and disabled residents. It isn't as flexible as a taxi, but it is also less costly.

Over the years, the service has been debated because of its nature as a transportation service funded by local municipalities in direct competition with taxi companies and the like.

As time has gone on, however, it's become clear the service just isn't being utilized by rural residents.

Perhaps that's because people think the handi-buses are "only for old people." Perhaps it's due to lackluster service; we don't use the buses on a regular basis, so we have no idea how accessible they are.

More than likely, we can chalk up some of this disuse to a lack of advertising. How do people even utilize the service? How many people reading this editorial right now could answer that question?

There are people living in the country for whom the handi-buses could be useful, but in truth, most of the people who would use this service are located in town..

And that leaves the county carrying a larger part of the costs for a program that hardly anyone in their municipality even uses.

We don't want to see the service fail. We don't want to see the county's withdrawal a year from now spell the doom of the transportation committee.

Hopefully, this generates some further debate on the topic. Perhaps, instead of this being solely debated by municipal politicians, Westlock residents can lend their voices to the topic. It would be nice to actually hear from people who utilize the service as to its effectiveness and worth.

We hope the service doesn't go. But at the same time, we can understand the county's position.

Westlock News: Off at the next stop please

Off at the next stop please
Westlock County serves notice that they're pulling out of Westlock and District Transportation Committee

Allendria Brunjes
News Staff

Westlock County council has notified the Westlock and District Transportation Committee that the county will no longer be a member of the committee, effective Jan. 1, 2011.

After an in-camera session on Sept. 22, county council voted to leave the committee. A letter was presented to transportation committee members on Nov. 20, stating the county's intent to quit.

The committee's main function is to provide transportation for elderly and disabled residents of the county and town by running a handi-bus service.

Westlock County's corporate and environmental services director Dennis Mueller said the county currently has only one registered rider.

"If our ridership was greater, I don't think we would have this discussion," he said.

He said the service is valuable for the town, but the county is not seeing any return.

"It is a very valuable service for the residents in town," he said, noting that there are 63 registered riders who use the bus regularly in town, and no registered riders from the Village of Clyde.

In the letter, dated Sept. 24, county administrator Ed LeBlanc states the county's participation in the committee was discussed at length during the Sept. 22 council meeting.

"The county could no longer justify its involvement in the committee's operation based on the very low ridership that we have experienced over a substantial period of time," the letter states.

Reeve Charles Navratil said while they did serve their notice, nothing is final yet.

"It may be good to keep in town, but to take out into the county I don't know," he said. "We did serve notice because we don't know if it's serving its purpose anymore."

The county contributes $22,250 to the service, while the town gives $15,066 and Clyde puts in $1,408. Mueller said these funds come from unconditional provincial grants, meaning the municipalities can take the money away and use it for other parts of their transportation budget.

In an interview, LeBlanc said that although council voted to leave the committee and could theoretically take the funds with them, the money may end up staying behind.

"The committee's equity and our financial contribution is still on the table for further discussion," he said. "It's yet to be determined. County council has not closed the door on that particular issue."

At the Nov. 23 town council meeting, councillors expressed their disapproval with county's decision, stating that there has not yet been an effort to fix the service.

"There has not been an attempt yet to just change it and make it work," said town Coun. Robin Brett.

"We do not want to see this discontinued, but maybe we want to look at different ways to use it," said town Coun. Marjorie Sterling-Miller, suggesting that the bus could be used to help single mothers who need transportation.

Sterling-Miller, who is also a member of the transportation committee, said she would really like to see the town not just agree to go forward with the county's decision, but discuss it further.

Mayor Bruce Lennon, pointing out that town council did not know about county's withdrawal, said he was not happy with the fact that county did not discuss the issue at a joint services meeting, which was held after the county's decision was made.

LeBlanc said the county only needed to give one year's notice to leave the committee, which is what they did.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

UN Enable - International Day of Persons with Disabilities - 3 December 2009

UN Enable - International Day of Persons with Disabilities - 3 December 2009
The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, aims to promote an understanding of disability issues, the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities. The Day provides an opportunity to mobilize action to achieve the goal of full and equal enjoyment of human rights and participation in society by persons with disabilities, established by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hummer for the handicapped

Hummer for the handicapped:
"Next October, the MV-1, the first factory-built wheelchair-accessible vehicle designed to meet needs of the paratransit, taxi, and consumer market will roll off the assembly line. Vehicle Production Group will produce the MV-1 at the AM General plant in Mishawaka, Indiana, where HUMVEEs and Hummer H2s are made."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

High River Handi-Bus increases services

High River Handi-Bus increases services

Alyssa Burnham, High River Times REPORTER
Posted Nov 3 2009

Ridership is down on High River Handi-Bus, but chairman Jim Humble said it has nothing to do with a decrease in need. Humble said High River Handi-Bus, a not-for-profit organization, suffers from a general lack of awareness within the community — something the board is working hard to change.

"When we talk to people, we're finding that most people don't know what High River Handi-Bus even does," Humble said, noting some aren't even aware that it exists. "We do a lot more than just running people around."

The volunteer-run organization's mission is to provide accessible, affordable transportation for senior citizens 60 years and older and individuals with physical and mental disabilities. They provide transportation to doctor, dentist and other appointments as needed, as well as to the Calgary International Airport, but what many people aren't aware of is that the bus also makes regular shopping trips into Calgary and Okotoks and can be used for special events.

more at:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alberta's 2009-2010 CIP Guidelines and Application form now available

Program guidelines and grant application information are now available
through the following link.

The next deadline for applications is January 1, 2010.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Local transportation society receives vital cash injection

Local transportation society receives vital cash injection
Oct 7, 2009

Jerold LeBlanc

Staff writer

A cash infusion by city council has prevented the Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society from coming to a screeching halt this month.

At its Sept. 28 regular meeting, council unanimously accepted to turn over $26,710 from the Senior Games Legacy Fund.

In 2006, the $50,000 fund was used to buy a van for the group, formally known as the Wetaskiwin Handivan Society.

Major overhaul needed

Society president and Ald. Mark McFaul, said the move is a stop gap measure for a group that needs to undergo a major overhaul if it expects to survive past January 2010.

“The operations costs about $12,000 a month to operate right now, and currently we have about six of that, so basically 50%.

“We are looking at all other aspects, and there are going to be changes, andbe there is going to be some fine-tuning of things to try to bring it in line.

“Our biggest concern is that there is no money to carry us through to resolve some of these issues. Our day-to-day problem is trying to find operating capital. This gives us the operating capital to operate through to January, and then of course, the new budget year kicks in – the City contributes, the County will contribute.

“It gives us quite a bit of breathing space,” said McFaul.

As for how the society has fallen onto financial hard times, McFaul said he’s not 100 per cent sure.

“I think it was the transition period from Senior Homes and Community Housing, which was at the time operating it, to when the point was when Bethany Group took over our Seniors Homes and Community Housing, that didn’t go with the flow.

“At that time, everything was operated through them, and probably funding through the City and County still kept it viable, and they were managing it in all aspects of it,” said McFaul.

“We are looking at all aspects of costs – from maintenance to tires to fuel. I have had talks with our fuel supplier, our tire supplier.

“Actually, we’re going to be piggybacking on the City to buy tires.

“I would have to say that the Co-op is giving us the best price they can, which I appreciate, and we’ve had a little bit of an influx of cash from the County and from the City to keep this viable this year. It’s an important part of the city.”

“I don’t want to say gone, or never, but we would have had to find another way of operating it,” said McFaul.

Ride costs rising

To help offset some of the costs, riders pay $4 per trip, but McFaul said it is increasing to $5.

“I am just guessing the average cost of a ride is $8. The problem being is most people using the services are on very fixed incomes, and $8 is not a doable fee in their lifestyle.

If the service wasn’t available, McFaul said those people would shut ins, and community programs dependant upon the transportation service would suffer.

Local transportation society receives vital cash injection

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Paratransit Driver Convicted Of Assaulting Child With Disability

A driver for paratransit service Pat and The Elephant has admitted to assaulting a 14 year old boy with a developmental disability during May of 2009. Pablo Victor Szerman plead guilty to assaulting the boy, as he left the bus in May, in Prince Edward island.


PRLog (Press Release) – Oct 06, 2009 – A driver for paratransit service Pat and The Elephant has admitted to assaulting a 14 year old boy with a developmental disability during May of 2009.

Pablo Victor Szerman plead guilty to assaulting the boy, as he left the bus in May, in Prince Edward Island Provincial Court on Tuesday September 29th, 2009 .

A paratransit bus is a minibus or van with wheelchair loading capacity which provides door-to-door transportation on demand of people with disabilities.

The boy has a developmental and physical disability. He cannot control the amount of mucous that collects in his mouth and needs to spit from time to time. He attempted to clear his mouth while leaving the paratransit bus.

Szerman wiped the sputum off the van door and wiped it on the boy’s face saying he was going to teach the boy not to spit.

The event was witnessed by the boy’s sister. The police were called and charges laid.

Valerie Gillespie said her son was traumatized by the event. She asks why the driver is still employed by Pat and the Elephant in the transportation of anyone with a disability.

“I put him in that van and I trusted them to take him there,” said Gillespie in tears on CBC radio. “And take him home safely and treat him with respect.”

Gillespie is calling for the driver to be dismissed from providing care to anyone with a disability.

Gillespie said that she, in her job as a resident care worker, would be fired if she reacted the same way to any of the people in her care. She would not be allowed to continue working in the field if she had a conviction for assault, she added.

Gillespie believes other children and adults with disabilities are at risk from drivers like Szerman who assault people in their care.

Szerman admitted the facts and plead guilty. Judge John Douglas gave him a conditional discharge, six months suspension, instructed him to write a letter of apology to the mother and donate $400 to a children’s disability charity.

Pat and the Elephant continue to employ the convicted driver but only for adults until next Fall. At that time Szerman is scheduled to return to driving children with disabilities said Trent Costello, manager of Pat and the Elephant.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Paratransit passengers get new link to DART with free phones, airtime
The News Journal
One function could save the Paratransit riders a lot of inconvenience and the other could be a life-saver. The phones, provided by Verizon Wireless,...

Friday, August 07, 2009

Council support gives boost to struggling transportation society - Wetaskiwin Times Advertiser - Alberta, CA

Wetaskiwin Times Advertiser - Alberta, CA

Council support gives boost to struggling transportation society
Jerold LeBlanc
Staff Writer
August 6, 2009

The future of the Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society seems a little brighter thanks to the support of the local city council.

A motion, unanimously accepted at the July 27 regular meeting, called for council’s support for the society’s application for an Alberta Community Initiatives Program (CIP) grant for as much as $75,000.

The recommendation was made following a meeting between city alderman Mark McFaul and Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Verlyn Olson.

The society recently held its annual general meeting and members are looking at fundraising opportunities for the continued operation of the service, which costs $10,000 a month. Expenses taken into consideration include vehicle maintenance and fuel costs.

The society operates the Wetaskiwin handivan, which offers a transportation service on a regular basis for local seniors and people with physical disabilities.

The funding, explained McFaul, would help cover future operational costs, but cannot be used for existing operational expenses.

“We have mentioned funds for a new initiative, or new type of operation.”

McFaul added the society plans on meeting this week, but the matter was brought before council now in an effort to get the provincial grant application ball rolling.

Ald. Gail Taylor said she understood that any CIP grant over a certain amount has to have matching funds from the community.

McFaul said those funds are already in place.

City manager Tony Goode said the criteria for applying for CIP grants has changed, and he didn’t believe the society’s initiative had matching funds.

Goode said although the criteria had changed, CIP grant officials still require a letter of support by council.

McFaul told council that as of right now, the society has sufficient funding to carry on the operations of the service, but it was crucial to get the grant application started as soon as possible.

Ald. Barry Hawkes asked what would happen if the society doesn’t receive its CIP grant funding.

McFaul said the society would have to look at alternative ways to raise funds, something it is already pursuing.

“We will do everything we can to keep it going,” said McFaul.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

New transit bus a boon to Stony Plain seniors, disabled - Spruce Grove Examiner - Alberta, CA

Spruce Grove Examiner - Alberta, CA

New transit bus a boon to Stony Plain seniors, disabled
Posted By Cory Satermo
Aug 1 2009

Seniors and disabled individuals can now look forward to new transportation picking them up after Stony Plain council approved the purchase of a para-transit bus at a council meeting on Monday July 20.

The vehicle will replace one of two transit buses currently in use.

The vehicle being replaced, a 1999 model has close to 400,000 km tallied over its lifetime.

The purchase amounts to $68,565 including GST and comes from 1st Bus Centre, a company in Edmonton.

The cost is much lower than the $140,000 budgeted, which sparked Coun. Robert Twerdoclib to question whether administration should be praised for finding a bargain or encouraged to budget more accurately in the future.

“The price was excellent, but the budget wasn’t. Remember we’re going into budget again in only a few months from now and I certainly hope that pencils will be sharp in the budget process,” Twerdoclib said.

Administration replied that the budgeted amount was based on a previous purchase and changes in the industry have brought prices down.

According to a report presented to council, each vehicle travels 3,500 to 4,000 km a month.

One requirement council had to consider before purchasing the new vehicle was to find a model with a larger seating capacity than previous vehicles.

The existing unit has room for eight able-bodied individuals and two wheelchair passengers.

The new bus must be fitted for a minimum 10 seats for the able-bodied and four wheelchair position as per request by bus coordinator and Westview Health Centre and their Adult Day Program.

The vehicle is expected to arrive six months after being ordered.

An application for $40,170 of grant funding has been applied for with no notice yet if it has been accepted.

Baanff Canmore cure for seniors transportation

Regional cure for seniors’ transport woes
by Hamish MacLean
Banff Crag & Canyon

The call for volunteers went out last week for volunteers to drive seniors and people with disabilities between communities, or into Calgary, for medical appointments: the regional pilot project spans the MD of Bighorn, Canmore and Banff.

“What we’ve done is we’ve had all the best practices from all the different programs — because there are lots of volunteer driver programs both provincially and nationally . . . it seemed like a really good fit for what the gaps are out in this region,” Emily Smith, community services coordinator for the MD of Bighorn, said.

Smith said that this program is a way to formalize what’s going on informally already.

Those in need of trips into Calgary for medical reasons do at times experience feelings of guilt for burdening those who help them get in and out of the city.

The new system will ease the burden of responsibility on those drivers who already offer their time to take seniors into the city; it will also reduce the burden on seniors or those in need of rides.

Sue Smythe has been informally running a program in Banff through the Banff seniors society that works in a similar fashion.

“I continually get calls from the health unit, because they don’t have anything set up there, or seniors phoning me, asking me if there’s somebody who can drive them in — but unfortunately the three drivers that we have, they’re not always available.

The summer will be spent recruiting volunteers and dealing with some of the logistics for the pilot program, which organizers hope will be ready for a fall launch.

Each municipality hopes to get 10 volunteers in place.

“It’s been a challenge for our municipalities for a number of years, because there is nobody that does transportation specifically for these medical needs and we do have a lot of seniors and others who are having to access specialized services in Calgary and that can be anything from cancer treatment, to dialysis to special conditions and specialists,” Smith said. “We know that that’s an issue, and often, they may still have a vehicle, but they aren’t in a position to drive.”

In some of the more urban places you can get shuttle programs, Smith said. “Our feeling is, in the future, there may be the ‘math’ to allow for it, but there aren’t enough — there are a lot of people that need the service, but there aren’t ‘enough’ people that need the service that would make it, really, cost effective to offer something like that.”

The costs of purchasing a vehicle, to insure it, to hire a driver and to coordinate schedules at this point she said is prohibitive for the communities.

“This is kind of like a baby step,” Smith said. “We’re finding one way to address the need, we’re going to pilot it. We’re pretty hopeful that it will be successful and if at some point in the future it makes sense and we can find a way to offer a different kind of service then we would explore that.”

Nobody funds transportation, it makes sense for the communities to combine their resources and for the time being to offer as much as possible.

Round-trips from Exshaw will cost $40 and $50 from Banff. The costs are designed to simply cover the ever-increasing cost of gas for drivers.

“You really have to do this on a cost recovery basis,” Smythe said. “Nobody can really afford to do this out of the goodness of their hearts.”

Monday, June 01, 2009

Carstairs discontinues Handibus service

Town discontinues Handibus service
Mark Laycock, Carstairs Courier

May 26, 2009

The Town of Carstairs has sold the Handibus and relinquished its services, citing low usage of the vehicle as the reason for its discontinuation.

The town sold the vehicle for $2,000 in February after it was determined the 1985 vehicle was too old and needed to be replaced. CAO Carl McDonnell explains that it wasn’t worth the cost to purchase a newer vehicle because the existing Handibus wasn’t being used often enough.

In its place McDonnell says the town will provide other means of transportation for seniors such as the Volunteer Driver’s Program, which is run through the Carstairs Community Resource Centre. The program uses drivers who volunteer their vehicle and time to drive seniors to required destinations such as a doctor’s appointment in Didsbury or Calgary.

He adds that the town may look into utilizing transportation programs from surrounding communities, and can also subsidize seniors for the cost of utilizing a taxi service if needed.

"If they’re looking at something very specific and routine then we have to look at other agencies or hiring the taxi to do that, but it really depends on what they’re looking at," says McDonnell.

The Handibus program originally started in 1986 when the bus would transport seniors to the Didsbury hospital twice a week and would make trips to Olds and Airdrie as well as in town on Fridays.

"So there was quite a bit of use at that time, but in the last three or four years we’ve got down to primarily just Friday runs."

Riders would typically pay about $2 or $3 to ride, but McDonnell says that with only a handful of riders it didn’t make subsidizing and running the bus viable.

However, Kathy Westlund and Ronda Navrot from the Chinook Winds Lodge are expressing concern with the bus being decommissioned and are now scrambling to find other modes of transportation for their residents.

"We don’t want our seniors to have to stay right here all summer, that’s not an option, so we’ll just have to problem solve and do the best we can to take them out as much as we can," says Westlund.

Both McDonnell and Westlund said that the bus was offered to the lodge some time ago, but Westlund says that it was simply too expensive for the lodge to run without subsidies from the town.

"Our organization could have ran it but we couldn’t really offer a service to the community because we just couldn’t handle subsidizing the bus."

Westlund adds that another problem with eliminating the bus is that cars and vans are typically not big enough to handle groups of people that also have walkers and other assistance devices.

"CRCC volunteers are certainly a great service and are helping to fill some of the void, but they can’t take people shopping and take us on trips, there just isn’t enough."

In the meantime, seniors in need of transportation can call CCRC at 403-337-2633 to arrange a mode of transportation. The Didsbury Hospital Adult Day Support program offers a bus that will pick up Carstairs seniors every Monday and Thursday for the program. Program co-ordinators can be reached at 403-556-3132.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Yarmouth County -

Le Transport de Clare welcoming new bus
Ribbon cutting ceremony planned for April 18
Article online since April 14th 2009, 6:34

Le Transport de Clare Society's bus Le Transport de Clare welcoming new bus
Ribbon cutting ceremony planned for April 18
Le Transport de Clare Society is marking its 14th year on the road with a new bus, which has been made possible through government funding and community support.

The society will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, April 18 at 11 a.m. at the Little Brook Fire Hall. The public is invited to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which will also be used as a time for public recognition of funding from the federal Public Transit Capital Fund and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

Since April 1996, Le Transport de Clare, a community-based transportation program, has been providing affordable and accessible transportation to persons with disabilities, seniors and the disadvantaged.

Serving the citizens of the Municipality de Clare, Le Transport de Clare Society logs close to 18,000 passenger trips each year.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

That's it for Wild Rose Foundation...

Alberta charities worried after Wild Rose Foundation folded: "Alberta charities worried after Wild Rose Foundation folded"

Non-profit groups in Alberta are concerned about their future now that the province has disbanded the Wild Rose Foundation.

The Wild Rose Foundation was set up 25 years ago to grant money for projects in Alberta and abroad. But the province's Community Spirit Department lost $9 million in funding under the latest deficit budget, and the decision was made to drop the foundation....

So it is time to shelve our Wild Rose application.

We provide rural handibus-type transportation near Calgary. My organization was hoping for WRF support this year to defray program expenses. Now we are supposed look to the CIP or Community Spirit programs for support.

The CIP program is project-oriented. No support for ongoing programs but you could try to create a "NEW" project. Unfortunately CIP has become very political. If the MLA is interested, you could get assistance. If the MLA wants to see their CIP funds dredge a lake for recreation, don't bother with a proposal helping 150 rural Albertans with disabilities.

The Community Spirit program matches personal donations. We recently had our best year of fundraising -- $96,600. A local company gave $80,000 for a handibus. A service club gave $15,000 towards another bus. Personal donations were high for our organization but only totaled $1,600 ($10 & $50 amounts). Under Community Spirit, the company cheque and the service club cheque are not eligible for any matching donations. We will get a $1,600 matching grant.

WRF considered all these donations as basis for up to $50,000 funding over 2 years (no guarantees as we still must present an adequate case for funding). It is gone.

Alberta gives $30 million to breed racehorses. They cut support for accessible transportation in 1994 (not reviewed since). Why do racehorse owners get more support from Cabinet than Albertans needing a ride their dialysis appointments? Do they know someone? Could they introduce us?

Got to run! Another Alberta agency just asked us to subsidize transportation for some of their clients. Apparently, it is critical these Albertans get to this program.

It seems that Alberta can remove support from nonprofits then ask nonprofits for even more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Small Projects Enabling Accessibility

Small Projects Enabling Accessibility:

Enabling Accessibility Fund
Funding through Small Projects Enabling Accessibility supports activities such as renovating buildings in Canada to improve physical accessibility, enhancing existing transportation by modifying an existing vehicle to improve physical accessibility, and modifying or enhancing media or hardware to increase accessibility to information and communication. All projects must be accessible to the public.

Small Projects Enabling Accessibility
Provides grants of up to $50,000 for projects to renovate buildings, modify vehicles, and/or make information and communication more accessible.

Deadline: May 4, 2009

Small Projects Enabling Accessibility:

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A ‘handi’ service for those in need - Strathmore Standard - Alberta, CA

A ‘handi’ service for those in need - Strathmore Standard - Alberta, CA

A ‘handi’ service for those in need
Posted By Kirsten Mundy, Reporter
April 1, 2009

After 22 years of operations, the Strathmore Handi-Bus is still providing a service that is paramount to the mobility of many Strathmore and Wheatland County residents.

“There is a real need for it,” said Donna Specht, a long time driver with the Handi-Bus. “If it wasn’t for our Handi-Bus (the customers) wouldn’t be getting out.”

Specht has been driving a Handi-Bus for 11 years and said she has noticed an increase in the need for the service, but feels that too many residents are unaware that the service is available to them.

“We just need to make people aware,” said Specht. “It’s a Handi-Bus for these people. We’re here to serve the people.”

Specht said she runs into people on a very regular basis who just don’t know Strathmore and Wheatland County had this service. For many who presently use the Handi-Buses it is the only option they have for transportation.

The primary users of the service, said Specht, aren’t one particular group of people. She said there are some who aren’t comfortable driving into Calgary that use Handi-Bus. There are many seniors in the area who use the service, as well as others who are unable to drive themselves.

“We help people who need help to get to and from,” said Specht.

In order to make the service affordable and accessible, the cost is $5 for trips to churches, doctors appointments or the hospital. For trips into Calgary the charge is $40.

Specht said that the charge they collect doesn’t nearly cover their cost, and thanks to donations from various community organizations and individuals the number of busses and vans available to be in service has grown to include numerous busses and a van.

The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In order to book a trip people need to call 403-934-3418 at least 24 hours in advance, but the sooner the better.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lethbridge Herald: Letter to editor "Access-a-Ride drivers provide yeoman service "

Lethbridge herald, March 19, 2009

Access-a-Ride drivers provide yeoman service
Written by Jean Korth
Thursday, 19 March 2009

I have a concern and I hope others will agree with me.

Many people don’t understand much about Access-a-Ride (formerly Handibus) because most people are independent and have their own means of transportation or are able to use our great transit system.

I understand it now because I have to use their services to go from south Lethbridge to West Highlands assisted living facility to visit my sister. Their drivers (male and female) are exceptional.

Now for the concerns:
Access-a-Ride drivers do not receive the same wages as transit drivers and yet their responsibilities appear to be so much more. Could something be done about that?
The drivers pick you up at your door, seat you in the bus, take you to your destination, with the same routine coming home, and they take you to the door and wait until you are in safely.

Many people do not realize how much work it is to strap down one to five wheelchairs (maybe more) and ensure everyone on the bus has seatbelts done up properly. When they reach their destination, in the case of the wheelchairs or walkers, they wheel you to the door again. That’s what I call caring.

With children as passengers, if there is no one home, the driver won’t leave them unless the child has a key and the driver makes sure they are in the home before they leave. Otherwise the drivers keep them on the bus.

If I wore a hat, I would take it off to these drivers. They are so polite, caring and friendly and they call the riders by name, which is nice.

Access-a-Ride is an essential service and as more seniors and disabled persons become more dependent on these services, perhaps more buses and drivers will be necessary.

Thank you, drivers, dispatchers and other persons involved in making the lives of a lot of seniors better.

I look forward each day to reading The Herald’s letters to the editor. Many thanks to the contributors.

Jean Korth

Friday, March 06, 2009


We found a very interesting blog- Paratransit Watch. This month's entry has some excellent treasures:


MARCH UPDATE - New this month to the directory are three comprehensive studies published in 2008 that are well worth a look during these troubled economic times:

1. Integration of Paratransit and Fixed-Route Transit Services
2. Creative Ways to Manage Paratransit Costs
3. Paratransit Providers Tap Technology to Meet Increasing Demand

(goto PARATRANSIT WATCH: March Update for the actual links)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Op-Ed; Rocky View Weekly -- Handibus funding needs

Feb 10, 2009
Rocky View’s gesture underscores handibus funding needs
Opinion, Rocky View Weekly

The MD of Rocky View is to be commended for the boost it gave the Rocky View Regional Handibus Society last week when it donated a brand new vehicle.

The handibus society’s goal is to offer timely transportation to those who cannot carry themselves across the MD’s large territory. It is organized as a non-profit society, with a volunteer board of directors and drivers paid modest wages.

Among its clients are seniors who are no longer able to drive and those who must attend doctor appointments or treatments. Some residents have regular need for trips to the city for treatments such as dialysis or cancer treatment and those with special needs and the youth are also frequent users of the service.

As hospital beds grow scarce and patients are released back to their communities sooner, transportation is needed.

Rocky View handibus drivers travel to remote areas, pick up their clients and bring them to their destination, with their wheelchairs if needed, and take them back home when they are done.

The handibus transports many to buy groceries or for social events, helping reduce their isolation, reducing risk of depression.

However, in spite of its usefulness, handibus providers in small municipalities do not have a predictable federal, provincial or municipal funding source, constraining its members to a constant quest for the next donation or fundraising campaign.

The provincial government, used to send a grant to municipalities across Alberta for special transportation. However, in 1994 it decided to remove the strings attached to the grant, letting municipalities decide what to do with the funds.

As a result, most handibus organizations across the province saw the grant disappear in the black hole of general revenues, and replaced with occasional grants given from time to time.

After Alberta eliminated its deficit and debt, no provincial support for special needs transportation was re-established. No provincial guidelines today require municipalities to provide special needs transportation.

The result, general manager of the Rocky View handibus Paul Siller says, is that “we never know if we are going to make through the next year.”

He estimates that 100 special transportation providers across Alberta help the province save between $75 and $100 million a year.

For example, Siller notes that a local patient had to stay in hospital when the handibus society did not have the capacity to transport her to hospital for regular dialysis. If the society had been able to transport her, the hospital would have saved $22,000 over her two-week stay. That amount would have allowed the handibus to to transport her for 18 months.

The MD wisely used provincial funds that are part of the Municipal Sustainability Initiative to purchase a new bus for the use of the handibus society. However, not all municipalities in this region, which are serviced by the organization, have made the same choice.

That’s too bad. Too bad for the taxpayers and too bad for the people who find themselves in need of this service.

Filling this gap in the social safety net seems like a no-brainer.

It’s the neighbourly thing to do.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MD donates new handibus

February 10, 2009 - Rocky View Weekly Newspaper - MD donates new handibus

MD donates new handibus
Enrique Massot

It’s a Handi-dandy new bus.

There were many smiles, Feb. 3, when MD of Rocky View officials presented a brand-new vehicle to the organization that provides transportation to seniors, youth and special needs persons throughout the MD territory.

"Rocky View has been extremely supportive," said Albert Hulzebos, president of the Rocky View Regional HandiBus Society board. "They have a thorough understanding of the needs of the community."

Reeve Lois Habberfield presented the keys to the new bus at Rocky View’s administration building, during a morning ceremony.

"Accessible transportation can make living in a rural environment more comfortable for those experiencing mobility challenges," she said.

With capacity for up to eight passengers plus two on wheelchairs and room for up to four wheelchairs, the $63,000 vehicle will become a welcome addition for the organization, said HandiBus society general manager Paul Siller.

"When covering a large region such as Rocky View, it is of great benefit to have equipment that can accommodate a variety of different situations," he added.

The new unit will be replacing a 1993 model that currently services northern Rocky View in the Crossfield-Calgary corridor.

"We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to use this bus as a compliment to our fleet," said Siller.

The society works in collaboration with Rocky View, Crossfield, Chestermere, Irricana, Beiseker and Rocky View Schools.

The handibus society, Habberfield added, makes a huge difference in the MD residents’ lives, by promoting independence and reducing isolation of those with reduced mobility.

Seniors who cannot drive can make to doctors’ appointments or treatment visits to city hospitals, or take grocery trips.

The society has made more than 14,300 trips in 2008 and has been providing an essential service to residents in the Rocky View area for over 27 years. Currently, eight drivers cover a service region that is roughly three times the size of Calgary, from Lochend Road to Dalemead.

Four of the 11 units that form the society’s fleet are ageing and need replacement, said Siller.

"We still have four vehicles with more than 400,000 km on them," he said.

The list of handibus users grew recently with 42 new passengers from the Prince of Peace senior’s complex in east Rocky View.

"We are growing a lot," said Siller. "We are not keeping up with the demand."

Covering a large region such as Rocky View place additional challenges on the vehicles, making their life shorter than vehicles used in urban settings only.

In spite of its recognized usefulness, the society does not receive any regular funding from any level of government, which requires the society members to be in a constant fundraising mode.

"I would like to see the provincial government stepping up to the plate and matching the efforts of the MD," said handibus society past president Tim Veenstra. "It is something missing to this picture."

A provincial grant was provided to the society last year, Siller said, in response to a request of matching funds following a fundraising effort.

"We asked for $75,000," said Siller said. "But only got $25,000."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pincher Creek promises to help handibus

Town promises to help seniors
Pincher Creek Echo - Pincher Creek,Alberta,Canada

Pincher Creek seniors will not be left in the cold after funding for two local transportation services was cut by Family and Community Support Services.

Last Thursday councillors for the Town of Pincher Creek put their heads together to work out a way in which to fund the Care Bears and Pincher Creek Handi Bus services.

“We’d like to see the town, both and the MD contribute to transport funding,” said Councillor Trevor Birkmann last week.

Birkmann sits on the FCSS committee, which was forced to reject the funding applications from both the Care Bears and Handibus this year, after the province deemed the two groups were ineligible for funding.

“These organizations have known for four years that funding was being axed,” he said. “Transportation has never fallen under FCSS. Six years ago they (the province) started nailing small communities, you’ve got to stop funding.”

(article continues at:)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Rocky View Handi Bus - Home

Rocky View Handi Bus - Home: "New Buses
Three to Get Ready

Three to Get Ready

It went into service today, but the keys were handed over on Feb 3 when the MD of Rocky View issued this Press release....

But we've got better pictures. Plus!!! we unveiled a bus donated by the family of Iain Cullen Ramsey which has been in service since Sept 2008.

It took us about two years to get here. We started with a need for two buses. Then we decided that we needed three vehicles with an estimated $240,000 budget. EnCana was our anchor donation and we beat under the rocks and trees repeatedly to match EnCana's donation ----over and over and over again in our quest. A couple of service clubs pitched in, a concerned Chestermere resident put up a full bus and the the MD of Rocky View independantly decided to apply some leftover infrastructure money for another matching bus (we told them we were on a hunt for three buses).

It should have cost us $240,000 for three full sized vehicles, but somehow we got two full-sized buses and two wheelchair-accessible minivans for a total price of around $200,000 (Note: the mini vans cost about half of a full sized bus -- you could say that we 'doubled-down').

The key was a favourable exchange rate on the american dollar. That great exchange rate is gone and we have put the leftover funds from our $240,000 towards our next project. Four to go!

Stay tuned for our Four to Go! campaign"

Friday, January 30, 2009

Groups left in Limbo -- Editorial - Pincher Creek Echo

Editorial- Pincher Creek Echo

Left in limbo
Editorial (Pincher Creek Echo)

The news that $40,000 in funding for seniors' transportation services in Pincher Creek has been completely eliminated is a blow to this community.

In a small town, where public transportation is not an option, and the cost associated with ordering a taxi to attend a doctor's appointment in Lethbridge is out of the question, the latest news from the Family and Community Support Services is a nail in the coffin for seniors' independence.

While the Carebears and Handibus services may have been warned a couple of years ago that the services they were providing were failing to meet the funding criteria set by FCSS, the fact the organizations were told just before Christmas that they would not be getting any money in 2009, and not closer to the time they made their funding applications in August, is plain unfair.

With more notice, perhaps more could have been done to investigate alternative funding options in time for the start of new year.

With more notice, the two seniors' transportation services would have had time to work together and combine resources to remain sustainable.

Instead, once again, volunteers in this community, who provide a vital service to local taxpayers, are left scrambling to find a solution.

Friday, January 23, 2009

FCSS slashes funding for seniors’ transport service

FCSS slashes funding for seniors' transport service
Pincher Creek Echo - Pincher Creek,Alberta,Canada

Over the last four years funding from FCSS to the local Handibus
service and ... This year however, FCSS informed the Carebears and
Handibus society that it ...