Rita and Dollard Melanson are riding in style.
They're the first people to try out the tricycle rides now available for seniors in Dieppe.
Starting next week, seniors can book a free ride to run errands or enjoy the trails.
Two students, hired for the summer, take turns pedalling the vehicle, which is much larger and roomier than a child's trike. Passengers sit under a covered area in the back.
Dollard and Rita Melanson, who are about to celebrate their 60th anniversary, are impressed.
The tricycle is cozy, and "we're closer," Dollard said with a laugh.
"It's a great project. I hope it's going to continue."
Rita Melanson agreed.
"Some can't walk," she said. "We can walk. We could go for walks, but some can't so it's a great project."
The program is part of a participatory budget process, which has been used by cities around the world and was adopted by Dieppe in 2017.
Citizens group decides
Mayor Yvon Lapierre said a certain amount of the budget is set aside each year, and people are asked to submit ideas for ways to spend it.
Ideas have to be under $45,000 and conform to city bylaws, regulations and policies. For this year, the city allotted $200,000 to the participatory budget program.
Once the ideas are submitted, they're narrowed down by a group of citizens, who also make the final choices.
"The first year was particularly special because I still remember a meeting of council after we were presented with the program and what the calendar of events was going to be," Lapierre said.
"And the question came from one member of council was 'So when do we get to vote on it?'
"You don't. It's hands off. It's totally, completely hands off."
The tricycle program was one of six winning entries for this year.
The others were a playground at École le Marais, an off-leash dog park, book boxes around the community, the planting of fruit trees at Rotary Saint-Anselme Park, and a mobile water station.
The tricycle program will cost $19,000 to operate this season, with the city contributing $14,000 and Assumption Life providing $5,000. The tricycle came from Un vélo une ville, a non-profit that runs similar programs in Quebec.
Without the participatory budget process, these kinds of ideas would never see the light of day, Lapierre said.
He said the tricycle program brings young people and seniors together, is a green initiative and employs students such as Sophie Boudreau, who is entering the pre-med program at the University of Moncton this fall.
"It's really like no other student job," Boudreau said. "It's a pure service.
"It's really a good experience for us, and we know we're doing something that's really gratifying we're doing something good. So that's the main plus for this job."
Boudreau said it will also provide a good workout, although the tricycle is partly electric. The tricycle normally follows bike lands or trails.
"The bike is doing half of the work, so that really helps us for sure."
The tricycle program is scheduled to run through Aug. 25.
Seniors in Dieppe can book a ride by calling 506-877-5030