Burnaby-Douglas NDP MP Kennedy Stewart met with Seton Villa residents on Thursday to discuss their concerns about possible changes to two community shuttle routes in their area.
TransLink is considering changing and combining the two neighbourhood routes, to be serviced by one shuttle instead of two, extending service along Hastings Street east to Kensington Square. Weekday service along the new route would decrease from every 30 minutes to every hour.
"It was a great meeting," Stewart said afterwards, adding he is sending a letter to TransLink about the issue.
The residents of the seniors' highrise at 3755 McGill St. say the route changes would limit their access to doctors' offices, pharmacies, optometrists and shops in the neighbourhood. They are asking that service along Hastings Street in the Heights neighbourhood be maintained.
"It seemed pretty reasonable to me, what they were asking for, so I'll be writing a letter to TransLink," said Stewart, adding he also lives in the area. "It's really nice to have all the seniors and young people mixing, and I think this bus route really cuts a big chunk out of the range of what they'll be able to visit."
Stewart plans to take the problem of the proposed service cuts to Ottawa, he said.
"I'll also be raising this in Parliament," he said. "It's a bad pun, but you don't really want to be throwing TransLink under the bus here, either, because we've had - really, the province and the federal government haven't kicked in adequate money for transit systems here. So it really leaves TransLink holding the bag on what service reductions have to be put in place."
This points to a bigger problem than just the issue in the Heights, Stewart added.
"This is the wrong local decision, I think, but we really have to look at the overall picture of funding transit in all major cities in Canada," he said.
The NDP has proposed a national transit strategy, headed by Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow, he said, adding the Canada-wide strategy would make funding decisions more consistent.
Ross Campbell, a Seton Villa resident, said Stewart held a good meeting, adding he was pleased with Stewart's approach to the issue.
Former Liberal MP and journalist Simma Holt, who has lived at Seton Villa for nearly three years, wrote a letter on behalf of the residents, explaining their concerns.
"Today's major demographic is senior citizens. And it seems that a huge majority in greater Vancouver have chosen Burnaby as the last city in which to live out the last years of their lives," she wrote. "It would be a crime for TransLink to reduce this service that is so vital to many seniors just for the sake of a few dollars."
TransLink is compiling the responses to its public consultation last month and no decisions have been made as of yet, according to Marisa Espinosa, TransLink's senior manager for planning.
Espinosa previously told the NOW that the proposed changes are intended to accommodate more people in the area.
Route C1 currently travels between the Kootenay Loop and the intersection of Hastings Street and Gilmore Avenue, and route C2 travels between the Capitol Hill area to the intersection of Hastings Street and Gilmore Avenue.
The new combined route would travel between the Kootenay Loop and the intersection of Hastings Street and Willingdon Avenue, still passing Seton Villa, but would then travel east on Hastings Street to Capitol Hill and loop around Kensington Square Shopping Centre.
There would be some change of service on Capitol Hill, as well, with the shuttle no longer looping back at Cambridge Street; instead it would travel along Dundas Street to Kensington.