Russell Wangersky: A Conservative wolf in sealskin clothes
In St. John’s on Thursday morning, Tory leadership candidate Kevin O’Leary slipped into an apparently borrowed sealskin coat to make one more connection when speaking with the locals.
As this newspaper has reported, there is a movement afoot to re-establish a fixed route bus service here in Pictou County. Public transit of this type was shut down in 1996, and a recent survey found that 99.5 per cent of the 500 local residents support a public transit solution for the county.
Danny MacGillivray, who is both executive director of CHAD Transit and the newly elected mayor of Stellarton, is leading the charge. He has been speaking to groups around the county, and in the past two week alone, I’ve heard his pitch at both the Rotary Club and New Glasgow town council.
The hourly route appears well planned and would service key destinations including the Aberdeen Hospital, Highland Square, the NSCC campus, the library and grocery stores. Stops are also planned for Trenton Town Hall, the Westville Post Office and the Town of Pictou, giving residents of these towns easier access to local services.
Life in the county is hard if you’re “automotively challenged,” and many residents (students and seniors in particular) simply can’t afford a car.
The province is expected to kick in $59,000 for operational costs, and MP Sean Fraser is seeking $65,000 in federal funding to cover half the purchase of a new bus. MacGillivray is also asking the six municipal units to pitch in. New Glasgow has been asked for $29,141; Stellarton, $12,361; Westville, $13,612; Trenton, $12,323; Pictou, $9,805; and the county $17,756.
The seven-month pilot project is slated to begin Sept. 4. If sufficient numbers of people take the bus, the service will continue.
So what could go wrong?
“The CHAD board decided that all six units have to buy in or it’s a no-go,” MacGillivray says. “It’s a countywide service so we need countywide support.”
So if you think bringing back bus service is a good idea, please tell your local councillor, and most importantly – ride the bus!
“We either use it, or lose it,” MacGillivray says.
Government works best when all levels work together. Building co-operative relationships with municipal and federal counterparts will deliver for Pictou County, and this is why I am putting my name forward in the coming provincial elections. Our community hasn’t had a voice in the provincial government since 2013, and it’s high time that changes.
Liberal candidate, Pictou Centre