A local transport service is stepping down its runs to Pouce Coupe after donated funding for the service to subsidize its rates has run out.
As of Jan. 1, citizens of Pouce Coupe have not been able to take advantage of the Step Up ‘N’ Ride Services as much as they used to.
“We’ll never stop service out there, but we just can’t subsidize it right now – subsidize down to $10 per trip rather than $38,” said Mona McNalley, Step Up ‘N Ride Supervisor.
“It just affects Pouce Coupe. We get funding from the City of Dawson Creek to assist their seniors and people with disabilities, but we haven’t been able to reach an agreement with the Village of Pouce.”
Previously, the organization that assists seniors and people with disabilities get around had a one-year grant of $5,000 from Spectra Energy that allowed them to be able to provide a certain amount of trips per month to the residents of Pouce Coupe, but that one year grant is now finished.
At the Jan. 7 Pouce Coupe council meeting, the Village met with McNalley, Brenda Kreutzer, Step Up ‘N’ Ride president, and Wanetta Keith, the dispatcher, to answer questions about the service.
“We went in and spoke to the Village of Pouce Coupe at their council meeting … to answer their questions and explained what $5,000 got them last year and gave statistics,” said McNalley.
The informational session was not a formal request for funding.
“Because we couldn’t meet the needs last year, we don’t know if we’re going to meet their needs this year,” explained McNalley.
At the meeting, council did not make a decision on whether or not money from the village would be provided to help ensure Pouce Coupe residents get a subsidized rate.
“Step Up ‘N’ Ride made the proposal and presented their stats last night and in the next couple weeks, we’ll look at it again and council will see what they’re going to do. They haven’t come up with a decision yet,” said Michael McPhail, Pouce Coupe Village administrator.
McNalley explained that previously, Step Up ‘N’ Ride has gone to the village of Pouce Coupe, but was unable to reach an agreement on the amount of funding they would get in exchange for the service.
“Last year, we needed $10,000 to provide the service to Pouce Coupe full-time, and that would be for five days a week, and they were wanting us to provide the full service for $6,000. We couldn’t do that. We couldn’t meet the needs that they wanted,” said McNalley.
While the organization does fundraise so that the service can be offered at a lower rate so those who use it can afford, currently the fundraising efforts are not enough to continue to keep the rate subsidized for Pouce Coupe residents, explained McNalley.
“We don’t have the fundraising dollars to offer full subsidized service out there. We’ll still do what we can to help the individuals, but we can’t guarantee anything, that’s the problem,” she said.
Those who use the service on a regular basis have been notified of the change and are aware that a trip could now cost them substantially more than $20 for a round trip.
“It would cost $38 to go into Dawson Creek and $38 to return back home … I always hope that I can find some fundraising dollars, but when the village doesn’t come on board then I can’t do it all on my own,” explained McNalley.
McNalley believes that this service is important because without the subsidized rate, some residents of Pouce Coupe may not be able to afford to use the Step Up ‘N’ Ride program to get from Pouce Coupe to Dawson Creek.
“I think that the people are Pouce Coupe are already isolated enough from Dawson Creek to access their doctor appointments, shopping, things like that. So now with the added amount of money it’s going to cost to access Step Up N Ride, it’s going to be virtually impossible for some people.”