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City puts brakes on community group wanting to build new Vernon bus shelters

Lissa Boone, along with a group of like-minded community members, wants to spruce up public transit bus stops around Vernon, but the project has been delayed due to building code and design requirements from the city.
July 03, 2015 - 4:30 PM

WHAT GOES ON CITY PROPERTY MUST MEET CITY POLICY

VERNON - The intentions behind a grassroots movement to spruce up Vernon’s run-down bus stops are good ones, but the City of Vernon is still putting brakes on the project, at least for now.

Vernon-based organization Noteworthy Neighbourhoods hoped to get started building a new, covered bus shelter in the East Hill area this weekend to encourage people to feel safer using public transit. The ‘Community Bus Shelter Blitz’  project is now on hold due to requests from the city, but the group isn’t giving up, organizer Lissa Boone says.

“There are so many benefits from this initiative, to both the city and its residents, that we firmly believe this project will be approved,” Boone says.

She says she wouldn’t send anyone, from eight to eighty years old, to the shabby bus stop in East Hill, which consists only of a graffiti-covered bench with no shelter from the sun, rain or snow. Instead, she’d like to see the community take pride and ownership of the bus stops, making them more enjoyable places to be in, and to have in our neighbourhoods.

“Why would I use public transit if I have to feel like a second class citizen to do so?” Boone says, noting the lack of care shown to Vernon’s bus stops.

Boone’s vision is a safe, accessible and beautiful bus stop, one with paintings on it, flowers planted around it and protection from the elements. The working group is fully prepared to front the costs for the project (many building materials have already been donated) and will maintain it as well, resulting in no extra cost to the city, Boone says. Advertising space would be included in the design so the city can still collect revenue. Since the municipality, not B.C. Transit, is responsible for all costs related to community bus stops, Boone says the project is a win-win for the city.

But city communications officer Tanya Laing Gahr says it’s too early to say if the city will endorse the project.

“It really depends on what the application is, if it’s complete and up to city standards,” Laing Gahr says.

To be accepted, the project would have to meet certain criteria, including city branding, B.C. Transit’s corporate image, weather resistance, snow impacts, maintenance costs, and liability standards.

The city is aware that many bus stops in Vernon are ‘in disrepair and in need of an upgrade’ and is in the process of improving them, Laing Gahr says.

“It’s always heartening when we do have these community groups that want to invest time, energy, and money into making the city more beautiful, or making transit more accessible. We really do appreciate that innovative thinking,” Laing Gahr says. “We just want to make sure the way it’s done is done properly and according to process.”

While the Noteworthy Neighbourhoods group still needs a stamp of approval from the city, volunteers plan on getting started on at least some aspects of the project. Members will meet Sunday, July 5, to remove graffiti from the bus bench, and clean up the area. The group respects the city’s need to follow proper process, and is actively putting together an application with confidence it will be approved, eventually.

“We are willing and able to meet all of their requests. So, the final questions for the city will really be, ‘What kind of a city do we want to create? What do we want our public transit look like? And what kinds of initiatives do we want to support?’” Boone says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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