Monday, 22 October 2012 14:22

Claresholm transportation society seeks funding

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The Claresholm and District Transportation Society (CDTS) helps transport people to and from many locations, but is seeking funding from various town councils to be able to continue to do so.

The CDTS takes seniors, people with disabilities and single moms to and from places including Lethbridge, Calgary, High River, Okotoks, Stavely and Nanton.
Lyal O’Neill, the CDTS office co-ordinator, says the usage in the organization has been increasing by 15 per cent every year.
“We kind of focus around the family wellness,” says O’Neill.
He adds the organization has been reliant on Community Initiatives Program (CIP) grants from Alberta Lotteries every year for the past five years for maintenance that needs to be done. Unfortunately, the government declined the organization’s last application, leaving the society with a $25,000 shortfall.
“The only reason cited (for being declined) was that there were more applications than funds available,” says O’Neill.
When declined, the CDTS was asking for $75,000 over two years.
The organization put in a new application for funding and the cutoff date was Sept. 30. They were told they would have an answer by Nov. 1.
The CDTS was established in 2002 and owns five vans to transport people — three seven-passenger vans and two three-passenger wheelchair accessible vans. Using  these five vans, the CDTS makes about 100 trips a month and transports about 4,000 people a year.
O’Neill says this is the only business like it in the surrounding area so it’s important to keep it going to benefit the community. There is no other real alternative transportation for some of the people using the CDTS.
“...some of them would otherwise be using the ambulance service, which ties up equipment and is not as cost effective,” says O’Neill.
“A large number of the seniors ... and people with disabilities would have no way of getting to their appointments in these other sectors, so we’re serving a need that nobody else is covering.”
O’Neill adds there are a few handi-bus services provided to some of the communities the CDTS serves. However, those companies only offer it within the community whereas the CDTS offers it to and from several different communities as far as Lethbridge and Calgary.
“We’re saving Alberta Health Services thousands of dollars — hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they don’t know that,” says O’Neill.
CDTS officials are approaching service clubs in the area and the towns of Nanton, Stavely, Granum and Fort Macleod. O’Neill states the CDTS already receives funding from Claresholm in the amount of $10,000.
“So, we are approaching all of the town councils in the area actively soliciting funds. The only other alternative we have is increasing fares, which we would rather not do. (We want) to keep our fares affordable to low-income people,” says O’Neill.
The company is asking for money to help cover the costs of office administration and the operation of five vans, including maintenance, insurance, fuel, drivers and storage.
O’Neill points out with one van sitting at 200,000 km and another nearing 300,000 km, eventually the vans will need replacing. He hopes other communities will be able to help fund the valuable service.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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