Mayors’ Council also supports provincial boost to HandyDART service
HandyDART Riders’ Alliance members were among the 800 delegates from the Metro Vancouver Alliance’s (MVA) 57 member organizations at the packed Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver on April 4. We were there to call on John Horgan, Leader of the New Democratic Party of BC, and Andrew Weaver, Leader of the Green Party of BC, to support MVA’s provincial agenda on affordable housing crisis, HandyDART service, income inequality and
healthcare. Christy Clark, Leader of the BC Liberal Party, chose not to attend.
Bet Tuason, a member of the HandyDART Riders Alliance and dialysis patient, spoke very powerfully of the challenges he faces accessing HandyDART services and how his treatment can take up to 13 hours per day, when the time spent in transit is factored in.
John Horgan committed to providing funding through a special grant to increase HandyDART service hours by 5% per year for the next four years for all TransLink and BC Transit HandyDART services. Andrew Weaver noted that HandyDART service needs to be improved but was unable to commit to a specific percentage amount.
The day after the MVA assembly, the Mayors of Metro Vancouver also called for the provincial parties to commit to a bigger increase in HandyDART service than the mayors have already funded. The Mayors’ Council HandyDART backgrounder states that:
“This critical service provides mobility to those in the community who have few other transportation choices. In particular, it provides a vital link to the provincial healthcare system, including medical appointments, outpatient services and supports. In fact, 67% of HandyDART trips are used to access these services, as opposed to just 5% of all trips on the conventional transit system. . . . Demand for this service is expected to increase as the population of residents aged 70+ increases by 55% over the next decade, and as the provincial healthcare system continues to shift more services to community-centered care. . . .
The Mayors’ Council is calling on all B.C. political parties to commit to working with TransLink and HandyDART riders immediately to more fairly fund HandyDART, including to commit to improving service above and beyond the 30% increase proposed in the 10-Year Vision, so our residents have access services at a level comparable to other major Canadian cities.”
Now that the provincial parties have made their positions on HandyDART clear, you can make up your own mind on who to support in the upcoming provincial election. There are several ways to do this:
1) Register & vote in advance – and get your friends and family to do the same
Elections are decided as much by the people who don’t vote as those who do. The wealthy and powerful always vote, and staying at home lets them pick the government.
• Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address – http://elections.bc.ca/register-to-vote/
• Advance voting is available throughout the province on April 29 and 30, and May 3, 4, 5 and 6. Advance voting is open to all eligible voters, and all advance voting locations are wheelchair accessible. It will be much easier to get a HandyDART ride to advance polls than on May 9 (election day). Advance polling locations have not been announced yet, but will be posted at http://elections.bc.ca/2017-general-election/where-to-vote/
You can also vote by mail if it is difficult for you to get to a polling place: http://elections.bc.ca/2017-general-election/requesting-a-vote-by-mail-package/
2) Write a letter to the editor about the need for political parties to properly fund HandyDART service. Your local paper is the easiest place to get published, but send a copy to the Vancouver Sun http://www.vancouversun.com/about-vancouver-sun/editorial.html & The Province too http://theprovince.com/about-the-province!