Vince Sampare

STORY AND VIDEO: Friendship House Association able to purchase new 15-passenger van to stop hitchhiking

A brand new 15-passenger vehicle is the newest endeavour to help combat hitchhiking along Highway 16





A brand new 15-passenger vehicle is the newest endeavour to help combat hitchhiking along Highway 16 thanks to the Friendship House of Prince Rupert’s successful grant application.

Friendship House executive director Anna Zanella will be able to add the van, one that already includes the Sunshine Coach – a well-worn van that is a frequent sight around the streets of Prince Rupert, transporting children and families to activities, jobs, school and anywhere else life takes them.

“The name of my project grant was the 3 Sister Friendship Centre Women’s Taxi Service. [The new 15-passenger van] is to help people get from Prince Rupert to Terrace and it’s going to be utilized in the community as well,” said Zanella.

The Prince Rupert program was one of 12 successful applicants out of 29 to get funding from the provincial government’s community vehicle grant program under the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan.

Two million dollars was made available, up from $800,000 after a large need was recognized in communities all along Highway 16 that applied for the grant.

The executive director will use her portion (an expected $90,000) to purchase the vehicle and operate it for two years.

“The Highway of Tears issue that came about … initially that’s how we started this process. We were looking at a women’s taxi service locally in our community as well as trying to help ensure people could get from one place to another up along this corridor all the way to Prince George,”Zanella said.

For the past several years, the Friendship House has used its Sunshine Coach van to transport its residents around town. The vehicle is showing signs of wear and has almost reached its useful life.

“[With the van] we provide safe rides to our youth as well as elders within our community and as well, if they were going to do an outing or field trip. The van that we do use is getting quite old and it was time to upgrade that,” she said.

Zanella also hopes to purchase a wheelchair-accessible vehicle in the near future to add to their transportation service. So far, the program has garnered nothing but rave reviews from the community.

“The families really like that the youth can be brought home after their activities here in the evenings after school. This new van will actually help us to bring the youth to our Gathering Our Voices Aboriginal Youth Conference. They were just in Kelowna [for it] and there were 1,200 youth there this year,” she said.

Not only does the funding help provide opportunities for safe access, but it provides employment opportunities for those driving the van, Zanella added.

The executive director will purchase the vehicle within the next few weeks, with the grant program paying for up to 70 per cent or more of purchase and operational (gas, insurance, maintenance, wages) costs.

The province conducted a needs-based analysis throughout the corridor, with a focus on applicants representing First Nations and/or remote communities that may not have existing transportation networks.

“We’re really excited about this. I think it’s an important issue and it’s really nice to have the support of the Province of B.C. to get us started with this,” Zanella said.

 

Just Posted

Port Ed council chambers full over campground dispute

Port Edward council puts decision to fund Lester Centre on hold

Houston homicide suspect remanded in custody

A Houston man accused of the second degree murder of Elija Dumont… Continue reading

Ottawa urges CN and union to continue talks as 3,200 workers go on strike

The rail workers began their strike after failing to reach a deal by a midnight deadline

Prince Rupert 2030 Vision ready to be shared with the public

Redesign Rupert is unveiling their plan for the city

Q&A with Lax Kw’alaams Mayor John Helin

Helin spoke about topics in his community ahead of the village’s upcoming election

Your Prince Rupert 55th Rotary Auction guide

Online guide to all the items up for bid before Monday’s live auction

B.C. to advocate for frustrated, confused, unhappy cellphone users, says premier

Maple Ridge New Democrat Bob D’Eith to advocate for more affordable and transparent cellphone options

B.C. man who killed Belgian tourist near Boston Bar gets life in prison, no parole until 2042

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchers

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Bids down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Most Read