Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Public transportation is a healthcare issue, says small-town mayor at UBCM conference

This story was updated at 2:13 pm

In the wake of hospital closures across the province, improved public transportation in rural BC communities is more than just an environmental issue, said the Mayor of Sparwood today at the Union of BC Municipalities annual conference.

“I think that rural British Columbia, for the most part because of the restructuring of the health system… needs to rethink how they do things,” Mayor David Wilks told the Tyee after speaking to a roomful of delegates about championing sustainable transportation in small and mid-sized communities.

Sparwood, a small town of about 4000 in the East Kootneys, lost the Sparwood General Hospital to budget cuts that closed over 200 beds throughout the area between 2002 and 2004. With the nearest hospital a 2 hour drive away, many people-- especially seniors-- without drivers licenses or cars were stranded without proper access to health services. Sparwood and the surrounding towns were not part of the 50 communities across the province served by BC Transit, and was forced to buy their own bus to provide service to the hospital.

Sparwood was able to negotiate with the Ministry of Health and BC Transit to help cover the cost of the transportation project in the small community. But Wilks said that for other communities, the cost remains a barrier to proper transportation despite the pressing need for access to dwindling health and other services.

“There is minimal funding available…. It’s important that every community in British Columbia has some form of public transport. Whether it’s used or not is really irrelevant. It’s a comfort level for people to know that.”

A resolution will be put forward later this week a the conference during the Principle Policy Session to "request the province take steps to improve affordable public transportation service between small rural municipalities and hospitals in larger urban centers in British Columbia."

Christine McLaren reports for The Tyee

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus