Transit ridership increasing in city
By Nowell Berg
On February 25, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kyle Dalum, Kent Goodwin, Nigel Kitto, Jason McBain, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick.
Transit Ridership Increases Year Over Year
Troy Pollock, city Manager Planning Services, presented the transit ridership report covering 2018.
He reported that 2018 saw a “positive trend in ridership. It was a really good year.” Year-over-year, ridership increased 13.5% compared to 2017. Almost 25,000 riders used the transit service during 2018. The highest monthly usage happens in January, February and March.
The health connections and commuter service, “both saw increases in use last year,” said Pollock. The health connections ridership increase 18.6% in 2018 (6,816 riders) while the commuter service increased by 1.6%. From September 2018 to this January, 2,100 riders used the commuter service between Kimberley and Cranbrook.
Expansion of the health and commuter services, which council approved, will take place “pending provincial government approval. All indications are looking positive for that,” he added. If approved the expanded service would take effect in September this year. It would add one morning and one late afternoon route to the commuter service.
While the winter shuttle service (Peak to Platzl) saw a decrease in ridership last year, Pollock is “not to worried about that.”
Changes to this years schedule has seen a return to historic rider usage. Those changes include “deleting the morning routes in favour of increased afternoon and evening routes.” Possible expansion of the hours of service are being looked at, but would take two years to implement.
A user survey will take place in the spring to obtain feedback from riders about the transit service.
Council opts not to act on Youth Action Network
At the previous council meeting, Feb. 11, council received a presentation from the Kimberley Youth Action Network (KYAN) and the Basin Youth Network (BYN) requesting the City of Kimberley become the new legal entity for KYAN through which they would receive funding from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT).
Out of that presentation, council requested that city staff prepare a report on the feasibility of taking on the KYAN.
Jim Hendricks, CFO, presented the feasibility report. Overall, the city would have to enter into a contract with the CBT as well as maintain accurate financial records and insurance to cover KYAN activities. Regarding the latter, Hendricks said, “We can do all of that through our existing MIA insurance. It wouldn’t cost anything else on our premium.”
He also noted the city would be able to retain $5,500 from KYAN CBT grant for administrative purposes.
Hendricks consulted with other municipalities using the model KYAN is requesting. He spoke with officials from Rossland, Sparwood and Fernie. “Its up to the municipality how involved they want to get as far as interaction with the [KYAN] coordinator and the amount of time they [the city] want to spend with them.”
Coun. Oakley said, “I support this moving forward.”
Coun. Kitto responded, “I support KYAN in what they are trying to do. But, we’ve been working hard at the city to disentangle ourselves from very complex societies. Also, there is a risk of showing favouritism of one youth group over another.”
Kitto reiterated his position outlined at the last council meeting regarding KYAN forming its own society. “I’m kind of perplexed we have a group of very committed individuals and why they don’t go out on their own and form their own society, which is a relatively simple thing to do. Our city workers are already over-worked and we just can’t add anymore at this stage. For these reasons I won’t be supporting the city being the legal entity.”
Cou. Oakley replied, “It’s a large group of youth that KYAN represents. They are embedded in the community and part of our city.”
Coun. McBain added, “Is it an all or nothing decision right now? Or can we further the discussion without making a hard and fast decision tonight?”
“It’s important for us to understand this isn’t a start-up, there is an organization in place with an executive director who is pretty committed to keeping this going,” said Mayor McCormick.
He noted that Hendrick’s consultation with other municipalities showed the time commitment to be “37 to 47 hours per year.” Concluding, he said, “They [KYAN] don’t have a lot of options right now.”
Saying he appreciated Coun. Kitto’s comments on staff “pretty much maxed out,” chief administrative officer Scott Sommerville added, “When setting this up, it would be a fair amount of work in the first year. I’m guessing the first year would be closer to 47 hours, that’s a week full-time concentration which puts us a week behind somewhere else.”
Coun. Goodwin added, “Is it time to look at a new position, a half-time community development officer?” He suggested hiring “someone to help out and spread out the work a little more.”
Again, Coun. Kitto said, “I would encourage them to be independent and become their own society. It’s onerous for us to take it on, its not part of our core services.”
Mayor McCormick replied, “I am very appreciative of Coun. Kitto’s comments. There are certain elements in the community, in particular, youth and seniors, that are not well organized in the city and we have as a municipality some degree of responsibility for community development activities. We already have a fair burden of staff time on some of those activities.”
He added that after four years of no staff increases, the city could only go so far in “finding efficiencies” before diminishing returns set in.
Mayor McCormick was in favour of looking at Coun. Goodwin’s suggestion for a community development officer.
Coun. Oakley said, “I support Coun. Goodwin’s initiative on a community development officer, there is a need, I think its time to make a decision to go in that direction.”
“I really appreciate your [Kitto’s] comments, I’m torn with this whole thing too. It’s a real difficult decision,” said McBain.
The Mayor concluded, “I don’t want to see them cast aside and told to go somewhere else.”
He asked if any councillor was prepared to put forward a motion that the city would become the legal entity for KYAN. “Unless there’s another motion we drop it here.”
No councillor spoke up to offer a motion to move forward with the KYAN request.
The next regularly scheduled Council meeting: March 11.