By Rosalind Russell – All four member municipalities of the LaCloche Foothills Mayors and Reeves Association have approved the purchase of a van for regional medical transportation for seniors and individuals with special needs.
Espanola town clerk, Joseph Burke, says the new van has been approved by the town, and the three townships of Nairn & Hyman, Baldwin, and Sables-Spanish Rivers.
He says it is not replacing the existing Care Van in Espanola, rather it is an expanded service.
He adds they will likely call it the “LaCloche Care Van”.
Burke says the four municipalities will share the cost of purchase and operation based on population, so the first step is the purchase of the specialized transit vehicle at a cost of $38,890 with the local share coming out of reserves.
Burke adds a full-time driver will be hired.
After discussion with Espanola Regional Hospital and Health Sciences North it has been determined, the van would travel to Sudbury three times per week and provide service from the townships to Espanola the other two days of the week.
Burke says several factors were considered in selecting this vehicle, such as balancing space for cost, also consulting mechanics and the current specialized transit vehicle driver for typical issues that are encountered with our current vehicle for in-town service.
“This vehicle will be able to accommodate 1-2 wheelchairs with 6-8 passengers depending on the number of wheelchairs and how we configure the seats. Seats are easily movable so there is some flexibility in configuration to ensure we can adjust to best serve passengers.”
Another bonus is that the vehicle only requires the driver to have a G license, which is an issue the town had encountered with maintaining back-up drivers for the Espanola Care Van.
Burke adds the idea will be to replace the Espanola Care Van in a few years with a similar vehicle to the proposed vehicle for the regional program so the partners can put the newest vehicle on the longer routes and the older vehicle will remain in Espanola for the in-town service.
“This will help prolong the life of the vehicle that is purchased in partnership between the municipalities.”
Once the jointly procured vehicle is at end of life, then the Town of Espanola would be coming back to the partner municipalities to share the cost of a new vehicle.
He says they would hope to get 5-8 years out of the vehicle and expect to receive additional Public Transit Gas tax funding each year.
“Of that additional funding, we are hoping an annual 20K can go to a reserve for the eventual replacement of the shared vehicle and 10K to operating. Confirmation of expected additional gas tax funds to what the Town receives for its in-town service is forthcoming.”
Photo: Espanola’s Town Clerk Joseph Burke says all four LaCloche Foothills councils have approved a new regional care van for medical transportation to hospital and/or appointments in Espanola or Sudbury. The Espanola Care Van will continue to provide transportation within the municipality of Espanola. Photo provided by Town of Espanola.