On February 24th, the Linking Hands Network held a working group meeting, Access to Transportation, at The Gathering House in Chesterville.
The meeting is one of six working group meetings set up in response to the outcome from the November 18, 2011 Dundas County Community Forum held at the Christian Reformed Church in Williamsburg.
In November, Pauline Pratt, Executive Director for the House of Lazarus, told The Leader that “this Community Forum was the next step in the House of Lazarus’s Linking Hands in Dundas project. The overall vision of the project is to develop sustainable solutions to the increasing poverty we are experiencing in North and South Dundas, and create communities that are more resilient.”
The six working group meetings cover the following themes: access to transportation; access to basic health care needs; access to safe, nutritious, primarily local food; community connections and navigating the system; economic and entrepreneurial development and training; and, strategies for increasing participation in physical activities.
Nanda Wubs was the coordinator for Friday’s meeting, Access to Transportation, in which Robert Dupuis discussed the success of a similar venture in Quebec.
In addition to Dupuis, Harry Gow also discussed similar transportation initiatives, like the non-profit transportation service in North Grenville. Following the presentation, audience members were able to ask both Gow and Dupuis questions.
According to Wubs, “the event was well-attended and there was a good representation of local agencies including both municipalities.”
In terms of a next step, Wubs said, “continue investigating other models of transportation networks, send out a survey to agencies to determine current transportation ‘stock’ and to the community to do a transportation needs assessment.”
“In regards to political support,” she continued, “I feel that both townships are open to hearing ideas from the community that could make transportation less of a burden on some. At this point we don’t have any more expectation than that from them.”
“However, as Robert Dupuis mentioned, the Federal Gas Tax credit is available to Municipalities for transit only. They cannot access it otherwise which means there is a pool of money that could be used to help the transportation network. More research has to be done in this area.”
Wubs admitted, “this is a daunting task but the wheels are definitely rolling.”
“I want to reiterate the reason Linking Hands is doing this,” she said, “we are an advocacy group for rural poor in Dundas County and transportation was a key theme in the Community Forum held last November which was titled Building a Sustainable Dundas County.”
“If our community is not sustainable, there could be more on their way to being poor. As the Chesterville Record put it so nicely ‘economic hope begins with a ride to work’.”
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the House of Lazarus at 613-989-3830.