The Eagle Valley Transportation Society’s long-term goal of purchasing an electric vehicle received the jolt it needed to race towards completion thanks to funding from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD).
The CSRD board of directors approved a $25,000 contribution to the transportation society. The funds amount to half what the society has budgeted for the purchase of the vehicle; the society has already raised the other half.
“Transportation has been identified as a challenge in any study done in the Eagle Valley. I want to thank the efforts of this group to identifying an issue of long-standing in the community and taking steps to address it. This is a very valuable service,” said CSRD Board Chair Rhona Martin.
“The funds for the contribution will be drawn from the Sicamous and Area E Economic Opportunity Fund, as the purpose of the project is to allow seniors to continue to live in their rural communities, where they can continue to contribute economically to the region,” a press release from the CSRD reads.
Malcolm Makayev, the president of the transportation society made the case for the society’s benefits to the region’s economy in a letter to the CSRD Board.
“When seniors age in place, they provide a solid economic benefit to the community and surrounding area by shopping local at the grocery store, pharmacy, using the post office, Interior Health Blood Clinic, hardware store, visiting the Legion and much more,” Makayev’s letter reads.
The transportation society’s services are well used. Makayev said 46 members utilize their services and volunteer drivers have logged close to a total of 15,000 kilometres since the service started in late 2016. Makayev recalled approximately 3,000 kilometres were logged in January 2017 alone; it was an especially heavy month because volunteer drivers were ferrying two cancer patients to and from Kelowna so they could spend the weekend with their families in Sicamous.
Makayev’s application to the CSRD also noted that the majority of the transportation society’s clients live in residences supported by the Eagle Valley Seniors Housing Society. According to Makayev’s letter there is an economic benefit to allowing as many of those seniors as possible to stay in Sicamous because the housing society is one of the largest year-round employers in Sicamous.
The transportation society will provide a ride to anyone who says they need it free of charge, a five-dollar lifetime membership is the only cost for those who want to use the service. Makayev said the service strives to be compassionate as well as practical; the society’s coordinator Wendy Piper makes an effort to have the same volunteer drivers drive the same clients whenever possible so they can be more comfortable with each other .
The District of Sicamous has agreed to allow the society to use the vehicle charging station at the district offices for free.