Today, the B.C. government announced that 12 northern B.C. communities and organizations will receive community vehicle grants, as part of the B.C. government’s Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan.
The provincial funding for this program was increased substantially due to the number of applications received and the costs associated with ensuring the program could meet the diverse transportation needs of communities along the 800 kilometre stretch of corridor between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
The program budget was more than doubled from $800,000 to $2 million, over three years. This includes $752,000 in capital funding for the purchase of community vehicles and $1.2 million in operating funding.
This funding boost for the community vehicle grant program, along with extra transit funding recently announced, has increased the five-point Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan from $5 million to $6.4 million.
In awarding the grants, preference was given to applicants representing First Nations communities or partnered with First Nations communities, as well as to remote communities where no transportation services are currently available.
The grant program will pay up to 70% or more based on individual need of both the purchase price of a vehicle (such as a van, mini-van, or bus) and its operation (wages if required, gas, insurance and maintenance of the vehicle). Recipients can purchase their community vehicle upon receipt of the grant and can choose their vehicle based on their community’s needs.
To ensure geographic distribution throughout the Highway 16 corridor, a needs-based analysis was applied including coordination with the transit expansion under the broader Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan initiative. A focus on isolated communities was applied, as these communities have the greatest need for this community vehicle service.
The following communities and organizations will receive grants for the purchase and operating costs of community vehicles:
- Binche Keyoh Bu Society – Binche and Tl’azt’en Community Connector
- Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society – Community Connections
- Fraser Lake and Area Community Bus Service
- Friendship House Association of Prince Rupert – 3 Sister Community Transportation Service
- Gingolx Village Government – Gingolx Transportation Service
- Gitanmaax Band – Gitanmaax Transportation Service
- Gitanyow Human Services – Gitanyow Connections Program
- Granisle Better at Home / Village of Granisle – Granisle Better at Home Transportation Services
- Kermode Friendship Society – Kermode Transportation Partnership Initiative
- Nee Tahi Buhn – Nee Tahi Buhn Community Transportation
- Saik’uz First Nation – District of Vanderhoof - Saik’uz – Vanderhoof Community Transportation
- Takla Lake First Nation – Driftwood Corridor Transportation Services
The community vehicle grant program is a key component of the B.C. government’s Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, which has been developed to improve safety along this 800 kilometre stretch of highway, in particular to provide better and safer transportation options for women and teenage girls.
John Rustad, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation on behalf of Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure –
“We are very excited to announce the selected recipients of the community vehicle grants – a valuable program helping First Nations communities and organizations to purchase and run community vehicles. This safe ride service will help everyone, but it will especially be helpful for women, teenagers, elders, and seniors who want to catch a safe ride to their destination, and didn’t have options in the past. This grant program opens the door to safe transportation for these smaller northern communities for today and into the future.”
Mike Morris, Prince George-Mackenzie MLA –
“The community vehicle grant program brings a safe, reliable, and simple way to get around town for people who live in First Nations and smaller northern communities, many of which do not currently have bus service or even taxi service. The community vehicle grant program will serve the smaller northern B.C. communities very well, with vans, mini-vans and buses available to safely transport community members to connect them with family, friends, work, school, appointments, and activities.”
Shirley Bond, Prince George – Valemount MLA –
“The community vehicle grant program is designed to improve personal safety and provide transportation options along the Highway 16 corridor. We have increased the funding for the program to ensure that we can meet the needs of those communities and organizations that made requests for funding. This program is a critical component of the action plan created to provide safer transportation along this 800 kilometre stretch of Highway 16.”
To learn more about the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan, go to: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/transportation-reports-and-reference/reports-studies/planning-strategic-economic/highway16-action-plan