An exploration of new transportation options between the North Island, West Island and city hubs could take place soon.
At its July 14 regional board meeting, the Strathcona Regional District board voted for staff to provide a report on the possibility of a bus service to connect residents and communities on the west and north coast with Campbell River.
Tahsis Mayor Martin Davis provided more context to the request.
“We have real issues with transportation, especially in the winter,” he said, adding many people do not feel comfortable driving on the the road to Campbell River to access medical, shopping, and other services.
“We’ve been trying to put something together in Tahsis, but we’re realizing that there’d be synergies in working with other communities in this,” the mayor added.
“I know Gold River is supportive, and I believe Tsaxana would be too.”
Davis said the end result could see the region purchasing a shuttle bus that could help people out from Tahsis, Gold River and Tsaxana.
“It would only need to be once a week at the most, so there could be synergies in involving other communities, and having it go out to those communities on other days – it could go to Zeballos, possibly even Sayward,” he added.
Director Kevin Jules representing the Kyuquot/Checlesaht First Nations noted his community would also be interested in accessing the service too.
Davis said Tahsis will probably work towards a solution by itself if the motion is defeated.
“But it will be a real struggle for us financially to make this work, so that’s why we’re bringing this forward at the regional level,” he said.
The support among SRD board members was not unanimous. Directors Jim Abram and Brenda Leigh were both opposed.
Leigh, who represents Oyster Bay – Buttle Lake argued the regional service might interfere with existing commercial services like Tofino Bus.
“I don’t want to have any service that would make it harder for Tofino Bus company to make a profit,” she said.
Meeting Chair Brad Unger mentioned the Tofino Bus does not serve the west or north side of the island, but Leigh was still unswayed when it came time to vote.
Abram, representing Discovery Islands-Mainland Inlets, said he thinks the transportation should be a sub-regional one, and bristled when discussion of tying in Mt. Waddington Regional District came up.
“I think bringing in a regional district with their own complexities and problems would be a grave mistake to the intent of the mover of this motion,” he said. “That’s not what was intended.”
Unger explained he wanted to include Mt Waddington Regional District in a possible plan after meeting with North Island MLA Michele Babchuk.
“She suggested that it looks good if it gets the whole North Island on a project and working together,” he said.