The City of Salmon Arm is looking to reroute the Shopper’s Shuttle bus and move it off the highway.
At the Aug. 28 council meeting, engineering and public works director Rob Niewenhuizen explained BC Transit has contacted the city to see if it has any plans to expand or improve the Shuswap Transit System for the upcoming three years.
This planning meeting happens annually and Niewenhuizen said the last BC Transit improvements, which included an extension of evening hours, was initiated in 2019 and implemented in 2021.
The City of Salmon Arm is now looking into rerouting the Shopper’s Shuttle. Currently, this service travels from the downtown Askew’s to the SmartCentres development and back again via Highway 1. The city is proposing the service be moved from the highway to the new frontage road, using the traffic signals at 20th and 30th streets SW.
“It’s much safer for the transit operators to utilize those areas and we would essentially keep the bus off the Trans-Canada Highway,” said Niewenhuizen.
Another benefit is that the shuttle could then service businesses along the frontage road such as the Westgate Public Market.
With council’s approval, the city may proceed with a expansion of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with BC Transit, which would plan and cost out the proposed change and submit a Draft Service Plan to the province to seek matching funding required for operating and capital costs.
“There’s a number of steps that are involved with this so that’s why it’s a three year plan,” said Niewenhuizen.
Not included in the MOU was a proposed new transit stop in front of the 5th Avenue 50-plus Activity Centre. Niewenhuizen said BC Transit planners are still working on an option for that, and noted the rise at the corner of 5th Avenue and Shuswap Street “may be a bit of a problem.”
City council has received letters from residents and activity centre staff requesting a bus stop at the 5th Avenue location.
“It has come to my attention that there is a number of patrons that are no longer able to drive and depend on the kindness of friends and other regular participants of the centre for rides to and from their activity because there is no stop in front of the centre,” wrote concerned citizen Anita Stump.
“As a person that is fortunate enough to still have a licence, I am called on to be one of those people. I am hoping to have this issue resolved before it’s my time to require the service of the transit system.”
However, Niewenhuizen support of the MOU is not binding; BC Transit “still has to come back to council with what the costs will eventually be.”
Asked who would determine where the stops would be along the frontage road, Niewenhuizen said it would be city staff, which is already considering possible locations for a stop, including one at Westgate.
“Our local transit system operators are very good at providing recommendations on where they feel stops should be so if we don’t get it right the first time we could have one in between,” said Niewenhuizen.
Council was supportive of the changes proposed for the MOU, and Mayor Alan Harrison was hopeful BC Transit could figure out an option for a stop at the activity centre.
“I understand the hill…,” commented Harrison. “Conversely, right now the seniors have to walk that hill and they’re not on a bus. If we need to make that argument with BC Transit… I feel pretty strongly about this one and hopefully they’ll be able to solve it for us.”
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