BRUCE COUNTY – The transportation and environmental services committee received a report on a letter from the family and residents’ councils at Brucelea Haven regarding Saugeen Mobility Regional Transit.
The family and residents’ councils at Brucelea sent the letter outlining concerns about the reduction in service from Saugeen Mobility and Regional Transit (SMART).
This reduction has had a negative impact on both residents and visitors at Brucelea.
An email reply is being sent from the transportation and environmental services committee, providing updated information about SMART.
Since the director of SMART is no longer with the organization, staff have not been in touch with SMART, according to the report.
SMART has asked the county to look at funding the service as a countywide program, instead of the current model. The county will be looking for a business plan that could be presented to council as part of the 2023 budget.
Amanda Froese, director of transportation and environmental services, said the county will continue to work with SMART when they have a new manager in place.
Grey Transit Route has expanded the Walkerton stops to include one at the front of Brucelea Haven and another at the Walkerton hospital.
County Coun. Chris Peabody, Brockton, commented that the Grey Transit Route vehicle is “not a mobility bus… I did suggest the family council lobby individual municipal councils” if the problem can’t be addressed at the county level.
He stated the GTR stop does not address the outstanding issue of residents with disabilities not being able to get home for visits on Sundays.
A copy of the letter was included in the committee package. It stated, in part, that the councils strongly believe the matter “is detrimental to the mental health and well-being of county residents and their families.”
In March 2021, SMART decreased its hours of service to exclude evenings past 6 p.m., Saturdays past 5 p.m. and all day on Sundays.
“The result was heartbreaking,” the letter stated. “It meant a 2021 Christmas and New Year’s in which our elders and those needing assistance went without family visits, could not attend church services or community festivities, and did not shop at local businesses. It was a Christmas season that instead of being festive, offered more of the isolation that has been so harmful to our most vulnerable.”
The letter further stated that while the councils applaud reinstatement of service on Friday and Saturday evenings, “these measures fall short of meeting residents’ transportation needs.
“SMART is not an ‘extra’ for residents… Lack of transportation has an outsized impact on those residents’ right to quality of life and participation in the community.”
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times