Kincardine joins mobility transit corporation


By Barb McKay


Kincardine council has agreed to join the Saugeen Mobility and Regional Transit (SMART) corporation.


It was not a decision easily reached during Wednesday’s council meeting, as a number of councillors voiced concerns about the high cost of signing up as a member of the transit corporation. Four other municipalities, including Hanover and Arran-Elderslie Township, are already members. SMART provides transportation for individuals with mental and physical disabilities.


As a member of SMART, Kincardine will be required to pay a share of the annual operating costs, which would amount to $46,494.22 for 2011.


“I have grave concerns about this bylaw,” said councillor Maureen Couture when it was presented to council. “I’m not comfortable about the price and I’m not comfortable about the fees (per ride). The Municipality of Kincardine needs to decide what business it’s in. We already seem to be in the health care and education business.”


Deputy mayor Anne Eadie said she was concerned about becoming locked into a contract if costs go up. She recommended that mayor Larry Kraemer approach Bruce County council to see if the county would consider becoming a member of SMART, rather than Kincardine on its own. She pointed out that some of Community Living’s Kincardine clients live in apartments on Saratoga Road, which is technically in Huron-Kinloss Township, and perhaps other areas should help to pick up the costs.


Kraemer said he had no problem approaching county council, but was concerned that it would result in a delay in acquiring mobility transit services for individuals in the community who require it. SMART recently changed its policy and municipalities now need to be a member of the corporation to receive services.


“We could take this to county council, but it would take a lot of lobbying and quite some time, and in the mean time it’s our constituents who would suffer,” Kraemer said. “I’ve faced it myself when my father was hospitalized for five years. It’s difficult for people.”


Councillor Randy Roppel agreed.


“Even if the county, in its infinite wisdom, decided to take this on, we’re still going to pay for it,” he said. “We can’t leave these people out in the cold. We need to bite the bullet and sign this.”


Councillor Ken Craig said he did some research and said there are no other viable options. But he noted that the municipality would be doubling its payment to SMART from 2010. Under the agreement, Kincardine will pay roughly $23 per ride.


“It looks really expensive per ride, but if our mandate is to help people in our community, it might not be a smart thing to pull the wheels out from under them,” he said.