New West seniors to get new buses for transportation
By Tania Arora, Staff Reporter
The province of BC is a popular retirement spot for many senior residents. However, being a senior has its limitations—including, notably, transportation. To combat this, the City of New Westminster has announced funding for new buses, vans, and other transportation supports for its seniors.
According to a press release from Island Health, 19 percent of the BC population is over the age of 65, a number which is expected to grow to 25 percent in the next 15 years. Accessibility is crucial for these seniors and their physical and mental well-being, as Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, explained in a press release.
“Lack of access to transportation can increase social isolation, undermine an individual’s ability to complete daily activities ranging from grocery shopping, health appointments and engaging in community programs that improve mental and physical well-being. That’s why we are taking steps to resolve this barrier,” said Dix.
The Senior Services Society, an organization based in New West, has received $40,000 in funding from the province to purchase a new bus at a cost of $115,000. This is just part of the province’s approximately $1.23 million provided to 13 communities for different projects through regional health authorities. The money shall be channeled towards improving the transportation services for BC seniors.
Nipa Bhalla, the Senior Services Society’s resources development officer, said to the New Westminster Record, “Seniors Services Society is extremely grateful to the Ministry of Health for its generous contribution to our new bus, so we may continue to provide vulnerable and isolated seniors with opportunities to socialize with their peers, contributing to healthy and positive aging.”
The Society is working towards making sure that they get the best price and set up a convenient structure. The new bus will help seniors access everything from social outings to grocery stores. The vehicle will be equipped with a wheelchair lift and have a seating capacity of 16 people. To ensure safety and a great experience, the bus will also have a host, usually a senior volunteer. The bus and other new vehicles and programs across the province will help senior residents continue to lead active, engaged lives.
In the report by Island Health, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors and Multiculturalism Anne Kang said, “Seniors are the hearts of our communities and they deserve to get the support they need to live the healthiest lives possible. By increasing transportation options within the community, seniors will better be able to live independent lives and stay physically and socially active.”