By Roman Hayter
The Kikinahk Friendship Centre’s shuttle service has come to an end. The shuttle service began its operations in October will cease due to a lack of funding, shuttering an essential service.
“We found out that it was a really beneficial and necessary service for a lot of people. I mean if you need a specialist, if you’re a senior, a lot of them don’t have driver’s licenses and have no way of going down. Yet, there are appointments in the city, whether it’s medical or dental or eye tests or something like that, and if they’ve lost their license or don’t have one, don’t have a vehicle, or in the winter if their vehicle is not good enough, the busing was the only way, and because it was free, it was very beneficial for everybody,” said Ron Woytowich, Executive Director of the Kikinahk Friendship Centre.
“If you’re Treaty and you end up going to Prince Albert to the hospital, the band covers it. But, if you’re Metis or anything else in the community, it’s your cost. If you have family or friends in the hospital in Prince Albert, nobody covers that cost, so they used that to go visit people.”
Woytowich explained that if the shuttle service were to receive more funding and were to be brought back, he would like to see changes made to the schedule to make the service more accommodating for passengers.
“If we are to do it again, and I do have an application out there right now, I have not heard from the government. I would like to run it from May 1 again for a year, but I would also like to run it so that it was running on Sunday. There are a lot of people that are students that would like to come home on the weekend, but they would come home on the bus on Friday, they’d get on the bus in Prince Albert at 5:30 and they would come home. But then because we never ran on Sunday, they would have to lose a day of school when they went back on Monday, so one of the things we learned was to get funding to run it for six days a week,” Woytowich said.
A request for further funding to continue the program has been sent, with a response expected to arrive on May 1.