Carol Dawson (left) and Shirley Simpson are circulating a petition demanding changes to the bus route that downtown seniors use to get to the Campbell River hospital. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

Petition demands changes to bus route that makes seniors walk blocks to hospital

Changes to the Campbell River bus schedule leave mobility-challenged seniors with a lot of walking to do in order to catch a bus to the Campbell River hospital.

And a group of seniors living downtown are circulating a petition to undo those changes.

“It’s just crazy,” said Carol Dawson a resident of Seth Norton Wing on 14th Avenue.. “It’s time something was done.”

“Right down the street where the Labour Hall is, they took that (bus stop) away,” said Shirley Simpson, another resident of Seth Norton Wing. “And that one was so important, here, especially. They (also) took the one in front of Dollarama and the one in front of Lordco.”

“We have to walk all the way over to Dogwood Street to catch a bus and the majority of people are on walkers,” Dawson said.

Changes made to Campbell River’s transit system in August 2017 have made it “extremely difficult” for seniors in the Ironwood/14th Avenue area – where many seniors residences are – to get to the hospital from downtown, the petition says.

The petition focuses on the #7 bus route which stops in front of Mariner Square on Dogwood Street and is the bus that takes riders up to the hospital.

There used to be a bus stop on 14th Avenue in front of the Campbell River and District Labour Council hall, easily accessible to Ironwood Place, Seth Norton Wing and other seniors facilities and with the opening of the Campbell River campus of the North Island Hospital over a year ago, seniors are having a struggle to get to their appointments at the hospital.

“We’re all seniors in here and to take the only bus that was within walkable distance…I mean all the people from the other parts of town would take that to come to the Seniors Centre,” Dawson said. The Campbell River Seniors Centre is located in Campbell River Common on Ironwood Street.

“That was most annoying to take that one away,” Simpson said.

The bus currently drops them off on Second Avenue and leaves them with an approximately 100-metre walk to the new front door of the hospital, a challenge when you may be dependent on a walker or a cane or simply slowed by any of the conditions attributed to aging. Before the new hospital opened, the front entrance to the old hospital was closer to 2nd Avenue.

“You know how far that is to walk from the Thrift Store down and all the way into the hospital,” Dawson said. “It’s crazy.”

Meetings were held prior to the changes to the bus system in August 2017 and a number of route changes and bus stop locations were changed.

“They didn’t look at why we take a bus to certain spot,” Simpson said.

The issue was front and centre in the Seniors Centre’s all-candidates meeting prior to last month’s municipal election. They even took city council candidate Claire Moglove (who was elected) on a tour of the route.

The petition calls for changes to the #7 bus route to go alternate ways in the morning and afternoon and that on the southbound trip, it turns right off 2nd Avenue to the hospital entrance and allow passengers to disembark in front of the door, continue in the turnaround and proceed to the Emergency Exit on the other side of the hospital. From there it would turn right on South Birch and continue its route. When the bus is travelling north, the route should be reversed.

“It’s nothing for that bus to swing in, drop people off at the main door, make the circle, turn around and go out through the Emergency Exit,” Dawson said.

“The whole thing is common sense,” Simpson said.

Right now the bus goes down 2nd, stops in front of the thrift store and then proceeds to Birch Street and continues right (south) along Birch, skirting the block that the hospital is located on.

The second part of the petition requests that the bus stop on 14th Avenue be re-installed. And what’s more, when the seniors walk to the bus stop on Dogwood in front of Mariner Square, “there’s not seating when you get there,” Simpson said.

“So, we just thought we would make a petition and see what response we could get,” Simpson said.

The petition was started on Oct. 29 and they have 14 pages with approximately 280 signatures, so far. The petitioners are trying to find locations to host their petition but the Seniors Centre is the most likely place to find it.

* This story has been updated to correct a previous version that said MLA Claire Trevena was taken on a tour of the bus route when it wa City Councillor Claire Moglove. The Mirror apologizes for the error.