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"