HRM hears plea to reinstate bus service to North Beaver Bank
Lyle Mailman presented to HRM councillors on Monday and will present to the transportation committee on Jan. 23
January 14, 2020, 5:12 pm ASTLast Updated: January 17, 2020, 1:06 pm
North Beaver Bank residents are continuing their resistance to the city’s decision to cut bus services to their community, with one man pleading his community’s case to four city councillors Monday night at the Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre.
Lyle Mailman has been a driving force behind trying to restore bus services to North Beaver Bank. At the North West community council, he presented a slide show to councillors Paul Russell, Tim Outhit, Lisa Blackburn and Matt Whitman explaining how the loss of route 400 has affected the community.
Route 400 was one of several routes retired on Nov. 25, as part of Halifax’s Moving Forward Together Plan. Many North Beaver Bank residents are affected by the bus route’s absence along the nearly seven kilometres of roadway between the Beaver Bank Kinsac Community Centre and care facility Ivy Meadows.
Mailman said the facility is the community’s largest employer with about 100 staff. It no longer receives bus service.
The city’s Access-a-Bus service, which serves people with disabilities, does not allow applicants that are one kilometre outside the serviced area. Now that the route 400 was discontinued, North Beaver Bank residents can no longer apply.
“To have a continuing care facility that has had services abandoned to it, and also to have a community now without Access-a-Bus, it’s really going to take a lot of long-term effects on our community,” Mailman said in an interview after the presentation.
‘Moving forward without us’
In his presentation, Mailman often repeated one phrase: “moving forward without us,” parodying the name of the Moving Forward Together Plan
“You have a Moving Forward Together Plan and have a set of criteria that excludes a large portion of our community — that is moving forward without us, it’s people being left behind,” Mailman said.
Mailman also made suggestions to improve ridership and public safety, in hopes these changes would encourage reinstating the route.
About 30 community members were in attendance. Helen Williams, a single mother of three, was one of many who supported Mailman’s message.
She moved to North Beaver Bank nearly five years ago. Williams recently purchased a second vehicle to manage her family’s transportation needs without the bus service.
“They used to go up and down Beaver Bank all the time. They don’t, or I have to give them a lift,” Williams said. “I’m lucky enough to have a car, but there are a lot of people in the community who haven’t got that luxury and that’s why I’m here — for them.”
Lisa Blackburn, councillor for the Beaver Bank area, supports the push to restore bus services to the community.
“I think tonight was really good because my council colleagues finally got to see firsthand how important this north section of the route is, and the real toll it’s taking on the community having lost it,” Blackburn said in an interview after the meeting.
To resume services, council needs to update the regional plan to include Beaver Bank in the city’s urban transit service boundary. Blackburn called the current regional plan “woefully outdated.” It was last updated in 2014.
She believes that reinstating the bus route to the north section of Beaver Bank is a feasible option.
Brynn Budden, a spokesperson for the city, said in an email statement that there are no current plans to change the routing.
“Staff also do not have the budget or resources to amend the routing in the short term, and it would be contrary to current plans and policy,” Budden added.
When asked if he had faith that bus services would be reinstated, Mailman said, “I can’t say I didn’t try. I think it can happen. I think it should happen. Will it happen? That’s beyond my control.”
North Beaver Bankers have been improvising to get to their destinations, or walking. Residents have been co-ordinating carpooling options through a Facebook group called “North Beaver Bank Need a lift?”
In the last two weeks, Mailman estimates he’s gathered more than 600 signatures on a petition asking Halifax Transit to reinstate the bus service.
He is hoping to make a presentation on the same topic to the city’s transportation standing committee on Jan. 23.
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