A transportation report completed through the regional district will be making its way to Sicamous council for deliberation.
The report, presented recently to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board, represents the findings of a feasibility study by BC Transit, which looked at providing public transit between Sicamous, Malakwa, Seansea Point and Salmon Arm.
The report includes five options, which range from contracting the service through a third party based in Sicamous or Salmon Arm, to the provision of a midday service, one day a week between Sicamous and Salmon Arm, as well as a weekday service. A supplementary option ties Malakwa into the one-day-a-week option. It is estimated this would cost local taxpayers $31,200, with the province picking up $34,600 of the total cost. The one-day service between Sicamous and Salmon Arm would cost local taxpayers $29,200. The weekday service, which would provide two one-way trips Monday through Friday, would cost $106,000, $47,000 of which would be funded through local taxation.
Sicamous Mayor Darrell Trouton notes the options are very costly, and council will have to look at the practicality of paying for the service and whether enough residents would actually use it.
“Of course we all would like to have it, but would you actually use it? And that’s the question,” says Trouton. “It would be nice for some people to be able to use it. But are you speaking for others or are you speaking for yourself? Most people are fighting for others. If you ask them, personally, will you use it, most people say, ‘I wouldn’t use it, but I know somebody else that would.’ And you know, that seems to be the consensus.”
The report’s findings were influenced by public input received through a survey released online and through the Eagle Valley Community Resource Centre. A total of 242 were submitted, with 191 respondents from Sicamous, 38 from Malakwa and 13 from Swansea Point. The report notes that while the survey provides helpful information, “the distribution method does not result in statistically valid outcomes and likely over-represents the ‘pro-transit’ segment of the population.”
As for the public’s willingness to fund a transit service, 84 per cent of survey respondents supported some level of property tax increase, with 47 per cent suggesting a small increase up to $24.
Trouton notes public transportation tends to be heavily subsidized by the province and the taxpayer.
“It would have to be subsidized very heavily by the taxpayer, by the people that say I wouldn’t use it…,” says Trouton.
Response from 30 people at an open house in March was favourable to a transit system, with interest in connections between Sicamous/Malakwa and Revelstoke, and with Enderby to the Vernon Regional Transit System. All who attended supported a transit system funded through municipal and provincial governments.