People in northern British Columbia will continue to enjoy safe, reliable transportation options with help from new multi-year funding from the provincial and federal governments.
B.C. and Canada are providing $7.9 million in Safe Restart funding to respond to the longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continued need for public transportation in rural and remote communities in northern B.C. through to March 2025.
“People all across British Columbia rely on safe and reliable public transportation options. The funding announced through the Safe Restart Agreement with the federal government and the provinces will ensure the continued operation of these critical services,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “Investing in public transportation is an important part of our government’s plan to make our communities cleaner and healthier as we begin to recover from the pandemic.”
The funds will be administered by Northern Development Initiative Trust, which will engage with Indigenous communities, regional districts, local governments and stakeholders to develop and implement a grant program to address the region’s diverse transportation needs.
“Due to the unique nature of the region and the long distances between communities, affordable and reliable transportation is essential for people who live and work in the region,” said Rob Fleming, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “Our government is committed to providing sustainable, longer-term funding to ensure people in the North can travel easily and safely.”
The new funding will enable northern bus services, including the areas served by BC Bus North, to be sustained and enhanced. As part of a provincial contribution agreement, Northern Development Initiative Trust will analyze existing transportation services with its partners and stakeholders to establish eligibility criteria for the grant program.
“Northern B.C. is a vast region with many unique communities, several of which are isolated. Safe, consistent and affordable transportation is a necessity for many residents of the North, especially now as the province is reopening and travel will increase,” said Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “We applaud the Province of B.C. and its recognition of the importance of northern transit service, now and into the future.”
In 2018, when Greyhound Lines, Inc. eliminated its bus services throughout Western Canada, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, working in partnership with BC Transit, launched BC Bus North, a long-haul bus service serving communities such as Prince Rupert, Prince George, Valemount, Fort Nelson and points in between.
This $7.9-million contribution was made available through the $1.08-billion federal/provincial SafeRestart program to help ensure essential public transportation services continue during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trust will focus its allocation of these new funds on transportation options that connect people to regional centres and provide longer-distance connections to worksites, health services, education and training opportunities, as well as maintaining connections between family and friends.
Northern Development Initiative Trust is an independent, non-profit corporation that focuses on stimulating economic growth through investments in grassroots, community-led projects.
Created in 2004 by the provincial government, the trust has approved and administered more than $405 million to more than 4,500 projects in central and northern B.C. communities since 2005.