News Local

Council approves public transportation consult

By Kevin Anderson, The Northern Times

 Kapuskasing council approved a $3,500 contribution toward the hiring of a consultant for a study to determine the feasibility of a public transportation system to run between Smooth Rock Falls to Opasatika.


In early December, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario announced a new round of funding for community transportation projects through the 2017 Community Transportation Grant Program (CT Program) to provide assistance to municipalities across Ontario for the planning, implementation, and operation of community transportation projects.


After the announcement, a committee composed representatives from Val Rita – Harty, Fauquier—Strick|and, Kapuskasing, Moonbeam, Opasatika, Smooth Rock Falls, Centre de santé communautaire de Kapuskasing et region, Cochrane District Social Service Administration Board, Disability Resource Center, Indian Friendship Center, North Eastern Ontario Family and Chi|dren’s Services, Red Cross and Sensenbrenner Hospital was formed in order to look at the possibility of submitting a grant application through the C Program.


A letter from the municipality of Val Rita-Harty presented to Kapuskasing’s town council last week stated:


“A first meeting was held on January 11th followed by a second meeting on the 18th. These two meetings confirmed that there is a great need for transportation between Opasatika and Smooth Rock Falls.


The Local Community Transportation Grant offers an opportunity to obtain a maximum of $500,000 over the course of 5 years without any additional municipal financial contribution during that period. In order to increase our chances to get this funding, the committee recommended that we hire a consultant. The consultant will meet with the committee and local stakeholders to assess the transportation challenges and mobility gaps, develop a service plan and budget and finalize the grant application.


This is a one-time opportunity to receive such funding. It is important that we analyze our transportation offering in the region and enhance its capacity, where possible, to provide transportation to individuals with limited access and/or mobility, and thus help them meet their economic social and health needs.


Since the deadline to submit the grant application is February 28th, and the consultant’s first working session meeting is slated for early February, we are requesting your answer by January 30th at the latest.”


Kapuskasing mayor Alan Spacek said that the conversation regarding public transportation between the Model Town and neighbouring municipalities is one that has been going on for quite some time.


“I’ve had residents from those communities approach me to ask what Kap can do to help with some form of community travel,” said Spacek. “Now, the government has announced a new round of funding recently, offering money to help run these kinds of programs.”


Spacek said he suspects the bulk of the reasoning behind the requests for public transportation are due to people in the smaller communities who simply don’t drive and don’t necessarily have the services they require in their own municipalities.


“In a lot of these municipalities, people simply don’t have a vehicle,” he asserted. “And for example in Val Rita-Harty, they don’t have a corner store, they don’t a grocery store etc.”

Spacek said the benefit to the town of Kapuskasing would reside squarely in being a “good neighbour”.


“The benefit is really for the surrounding communities,” he commented. “It’s in the spirit of helping our neighbours. That’s why we’re supporting it.”

Spacek said he expects the study to be conducted in the next several months and for the results to be disseminated shortly thereafter.