CITY COUNCIL has endorsed a call by the Town of Smithers for the creation of a Hwy16 shuttle bus service to minimize risks to vulnerable travelers.
The idea for a shuttle bus is a recommendation sprung from the Highway of Tears Symposium Report, which was further endorsed by B.C. municipalities at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities Convention this fall.
The UBCM resolution put forth by the Town of Smithers, and endorsed by council here Nov. 26, reads:
“Therefore it be resolved that UBCM petition the British Columbia Government to implement the recommendation of the Highway of Tears Symposium by establishing and funding a shuttle bus service between northern communities.”
Smithers is also writing its own letter and has asked local governments, First Nations and social service providers in northern B.C. to endorse their letter or write their own.
By the deadline, seven had signed on board, including the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine and Ksan House Society.
“It’s had really great support from one end of the region to the other,” said Smithers mayor Taylor Bachrach. “It’s an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and one thing we can work together on as municipalities.”
“We wish to express our strong support for this initiative,” reads the letter. “Such a transportation service will not only increase the safety of young women and other vulnerable individuals, it will facilitate affordable travel in a part of the province where important services are becoming increasingly regionalized.”
While Terrace’s council has acknowledged the need for bus service along the highway for this reason, some councillors said endorsing this letter would work against recent efforts the city has made to keep Greyhound from cutting its service here, possibly in half.
“It would seem that this would be against Greyhound continuing its service if the business was cut,” said Terrace Mayor Dave Pernarowski at a meeting last month.
Councillor James Cordeiro agreed.
“It diminishes the credibility of asking Greyhound to continue its service while at the same time advocating the undercutting of the service that we asked for,” he said.
But councillor Bruce Bidgood disagreed.
“This is the moving of people who are vulnerable for security purposes,” he said.
“I saw them as being somewhat complimentary.”
Councillor Stacey Tyers emphasized that a bus service of this kind is needed, noting the city has no control over whether or not greyhound continues to offer bus service.
Ultimately, all of council gave support to the call.