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Castlegar votes for more modest transit expansion

Castlegar city council has opted for the less pricey of two options to expand local transit starting a year from now, including a bus to Grandview Heights.

The proposal council voted 5-2 in favor of on Monday calls for an extra 400 bus hours per year starting in September 2024 and extension of Route 34 at a cost of $58,000 to the city.

The alternative was another 1,200 hours to improve coverage across South Castlegar including additional peak service for the Route 33 bus that goes between Selkirk College, the airport, and the rec complex. That would have cost the city another $146,000 per year.

While council has been adamant about adding service to Grandview, which is geared toward seniors, they weren’t unanimous on which option was preferable.

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Councillor Sue Heaton-Sherstobitoff liked the flexibility the second option provided and hoped for buses that could better connect with the airport flight schedule. Councillor Cherryl MacLeod agreed.

However, mayor Maria McFaddin felt that combined with an increase in taxes for recreation in Castlegar, the cost was “too much, too quickly.”

“Is that too much of a jump in one year to add what we need on the rec side as well as transit?” she asked. “That’s a really big amount on our taxpayers.”

Councillor Brian Bogle said while it is “vital” to get bus service to Grandview, he felt they are facing “taxpayer fatigue.”

“With the amount of inflation going on, everything is getting more expensive,” he said. “I think we need to start, get the service up there, and then look at it later. We can’t just keep taxing and taxing.”

Council was told the first proposal works out to an an extra $8.77 per year for the average house in Castlegar, while the second proposal would be another $22.04.

The decision speeds up some improvements in the West Kootenay Transit master plan that would otherwise take effect in September 2026.

Sept. 29 is the deadline for local governments to approve expansion requests so they can be implemented in the next fiscal year.

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