Transit was back on the Nelson city council agenda on Tuesday as councillor Donna Macdonald asked city staff to revisit Sunday service.
Macdonald presented a motion that “Council direct staff to explore options to provide Sunday transit service, either provided by the city or provided through a partnership with a community organization, and that an update be provided to council by November 7.”
The city made several changes to Nelson’s transit service as a means of reducing costs, one of which was the elimination of Sunday service.
Since council made the changes, council chambers have often been filled with concerned community members.
Macdonald originally voted to discontinue Sunday service.
“I do regret how I voted. I think at the time we were feeling considerable financial pressures and we were trying to choose some short term savings,” said Macdonald.
“We get caught up sometimes in financial difficulties and lose perspective or perhaps don’t fully recognize the impacts of the decisions that we make. It wasn’t too long after that vote that I really started having some doubts myself. As time went on my doubts became more certain that that was not the right decision.”
Councillor Robin Cherbo said during Tuesday’s meeting, “My disappointment is that we didn’t think of this before we passed the original motion. We moved too quickly.
“I still think, even though I agree with this motion, the city could have explored other options for funding to provide a public service. I think there are options out in the community but it won’t be as well done as public city employees.”
Macdonald said even though council was presented with ridership numbers when they made their decision, the impacts weren’t evident at the time.
“Certainly we had some numbers in front of us and when you make a decision sometimes the impacts aren’t revealed in numbers but in people’s stories and experiences. I think that was the turning point for me,” said Macdonald.
Due to provincial legislation, the city is not able to revisit their previous decision which would see the city prove the service.
Macdonald hopes with the help of city staff, options in the community may come forward.
“I’m hoping that out of this we will identify a community-based option that perhaps helps not only to provide adequate Sunday service but also helps to support a local non-profit or a local business,” said Macdonald.
“Hopefully we can find a way to provide the service and benefit the service provider as well.”