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Putting seniors on the road

Wheel deal: Shuswap Rotary member Doug Leatherdale got help from MLA Greg Kyllo to start a free bus program for qualifying Salmon Arm seniors. Lois Cunningham holds one of the passes that will allow seniors to ride with drivers like Leigh Pillard.  - Lachlan Labere/Observer
Wheel deal: Shuswap Rotary member Doug Leatherdale got help from MLA Greg Kyllo to start a free bus program for qualifying Salmon Arm seniors. Lois Cunningham holds one of the passes that will allow seniors to ride with drivers like Leigh Pillard.
— image credit: Lachlan Labere/Observer

Shuswap Rotary is hoping to put more seniors on local buses.

The evening club has set aside funds to buy one-year passes for local seniors to help them get out and about within the community.

Rather than having individuals apply online, something that can be a daunting task for seniors who do not have computer skills, Shuswap Rotary has distributed application forms to the Seniors Fifth Avenue Activity Centre at 170 5th Ave. SE, the Seniors Resource Centre at A-320 Second Ave. NE and the Canoe Seniors Activity Centre at 7330 49th St. NE.

Along with the application forms, there will be consent forms giving Shuswap Rotary the right to apply to BC transit on applicants’ behalf.

Once forms are completed and returned to one of the seniors’ centres, Rotary will gather them up and send them to BC Transit.

All information will be confidential, says Rotarian Doug Leatherdale, who stresses that eligibility of each applicant will be decided by BC Transit, not the Rotary club.

To be eligible, applicants must be:

• Receiving federal government income supplement (GIS) or the federal allowance, or the allowance for the survivor.

• 60 to 64 years of age and receiving income assistance from the province of British Columbia.

• over 65 years of age and would qualify for GIS but does not meet the Canadian 10-year residency requirement.

• 60 to 64 years of age, living on a First Nations reserve and receiving assistance from the band office.

BC Transit will send the passes they approve back to Rotary and the club will distribute them, along with lanyards, so seniors can keep them handy and just put them around their necks when they go out.

Successful applicants will be asked to pay a token $10 for processing costs.

Leatherdale says Rotary will be paying $45 for each pass, an enormous saving from the regular pass price of $38 a month.

“The objective is two-fold: Rotary wants to help the seniors in the community as a project and we wanted to help the City of Salmon Arm increase ridership.”

Leatherdale says the club is grateful for Shuswap MLA Greg Kyllo’s help in dealing with some administrative issues.

“We owe him thanks for his contribution in smoothing the way to make this all happen.”

The evening Rotary group got the idea from Leatherdale, whose 98-year-old mother rides the bus almost every day.

He says he found it challenging to work his way through the online process when trying to get a pass for her.

“We were doing a brainstorming about what are we going to do for a local project  and it got very strong support from the club,” he says. “We thought it would be a huge service to seniors.”

Leatherdale says local bus drivers are tremendously supportive of seniors who ride their buses, helping them with walkers and groceries and greeting most of the regulars by name.

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