The Town of Espanola is receiving some funding from the Ontario government for public transit, but Espanola’s Town Clerk says the big focus is now on a regional transportation option with its LaCloche Foothills Association municipalities.
Town clerk, Joseph Burke says the town is receiving just over $46,000, which will be put in reserves to cover the costs of eventually replacing the current vehicle when needed.
The current Care Van is still in good shape and the town does not anticipate needing to replace it for a number of years at this point.
He says the focus right now is a specialized transit vehicle to provide transportation to seniors to medical appointments in the Townships of Sables-Spanish River, Nairn and Hyman and Baldwin, and Espanola.
He says the town has applied for funding under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program – Public Transit Stream for the new vehicle, which would travel between the four municipalities and Sudbury.
He anticipates a decision could be made by summer and the town would then work with the municipalities on the logistics of this transportation system and shared operating costs.
He says a study carried out last year shows a definitive need for a regional transportation system, so the municipalities continue to work towards that goal.
Some of the gas tax funds may then be used to contribute Espanola’s municipal contribution to the vehicle procurement, says Burke.
In spring 2022, the Town had graduate students from Western University conduct a feasibility study and analysis for providing a seniors transportation option across the LaCloche Foothills municipalities. Through various stakeholder interviews as part of that study, the need for such a transportation option was made quite clear and various options for how this system would work were outlined which we will be able to build on to establish this system if the funding application is successful.
In addition, the partners continue to assess the continued need for this option through an ongoing survey being conducted since late this past fall by the Community Health Navigator who is based out of the Espanola Hospital. The Community Health Navigator position is funded through the provincial Community Safety and Policing Grant which was successfully applied for last year to provide approximately $93,000 per year over the next three years for work associated with the implementation of the LaCloche Foothills Community Safety and Well-being Plan.