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Kimberley, Cranbrook, A’qam look to expand regional transit

The potential to expand regional transit to include the airport and Aqam is being assessed. Bulletin file

Kimberley City Council voted last week to forward the results of a regional transit study to the Regional District of East Kootenay in the hopes of furthering a regional expansion of transit services.

In October 2021, the City of Cranbrook, with partnership commitments from aq̓am, SEM Resort Limited Partnership and Canadian Rockies International Airport, developed a feasibility study to explore connecting these key partners by public transit. The study was conducted in 2022.

The study recommendations include seeking additional investment by the province and BC Transit into inter-community transit options, improving road maintenance out to Aqam for better year-round transit, and including Aqam in the existing Kimberley-Cranbrook Health Connection service.

By bringing the study recommendations to the Regional District, more East Kootenay officials can be looped into the challenges and opportunities with improving inter-community connectivity.

The study sought extensive public engagement, receiving feedback from 1,316 East Kootenay residents, which included input from the College of the Rockies and Aqam.

The study, fully funded by a federal government grant, provided a few different concepts.

The most labour-intensive is a fully integrated system with service between Cranbrook, Kimberley, Aqam, and the Canadian Rockies International Airport, that includes all as funding partners, with an estimated five-year implementation timeline.

A secondary option includes a locally facilitated service, with flexible on-demand service between Cranbrook, Kimberley, Aqam and the airport, with a two to five year implementation timeline.

A third option includes beefing up an existing Interior Health service to include Aqam that could be implemented relatively quickly.

Kimberley Manager of Planning Services, Troy Pollock, told Council that the RDEK was best positioned to take the lead on regional transit.

“We would pass this (study) to the RDEK to see what possibilities are there,” Pollock said.

Nothing will happen overnight, said Mayor Don McCormick. “BC Transit moves slowly. The Kimberley Cranbrook commuter expansion took 18 months before something was in service.”

Pollock also told Council that transit numbers were trending up after the pandemic and he would be bringing that data to Council in the coming months.

With files from Trevor Crawley

Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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