| Sep 25, 2008

Sept 25/08 - Transportation hits snag

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Feature Article - September 25, 2008 Transportation plan hits a snag By Jeff Green

For the past four months a dedicated group of service providers with an interest in developing a transportation system for Frontenac County has been meeting with consultant Rob Wood in an attempt to put together a comprehensive plan for transportation in the county.

Rural Routes, a program of Northern Frontenac Community Services, and the transportation program of the Rural VISIONS Centre in Sydenham, both co-ordinate volunteer drivers to help get children, seniors, and people who receive social assistance to medical services, daycare, and other appointments.

Other agencies such as Community Living – North Frontenac, the South East Ontario Integrated Health Network, the Victorian Order of Nurses and even Land O’Lakes Community Services from Addington Highlands have been involved as well, as has Frontenac County, in trying to put together a comprehensive, efficient service.

“We have made great progress working to find the best way to bring all the interests together to develop a county-wide plan,” said Rob Wood, the consultant who was hired by Frontenac County to help develop a co-ordinated service.

The County of Frontenac has provided administrative funding for Rural Routes this year and last, and has funded rides for both Rural VISIONS and the Child Centre in Sharbot Lake for several years. The county wanted to see that there were no overlaps between services and that a level of co-operation between agencies be fostered before committing to funding the system for future years.

They were also considering seeking provincial funds to augment the service.

Rob Wood said that everything was moving forward, and the boards of both Rural VISIONS and Northern Frontenac Community Services had made commitments to collaborate on transportation, and a funding model was being developed.

Then he found out that the provincial funds were not going to be available.

“The money we were seeking was from gas tax rebate funds that are earmarked for municipal transportation by the Province of Ontario, and in August I found out that only fully accessible vehicles were eligible for support. All of the agencies in Frontenac County use volunteer drivers, who don’t have fully accessible vehicles, so we won’t be eligible for funding,” Wood said in a phone interview this week, “so we will have to go back to work on the funding.”

A preliminary presentation went to a joint meeting of Frontenac County last week, and a final plan, including funding requirements, is expected to be ready by the County Council meeting on October 15.

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