Today's date: Saturday April 29, 2017 Vol 50 Issue 17
   
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Community Guide SS 2017

Council concerned for bus companies

by Mike Robinson

KENILWORTH

Councillors here are concerned about the impact of local businesses losing bus routes.

A letter from Wellington North was sent by Mayor Mike Broom­head to the Wellington, Dufferin Transportation Ser­vi­c­es in March.

Broomhead said he had ori­gi­nally been asked to send the letter on behalf of Cook’s Bus Lines

Broomhead wrote, “I feel Cook’s Bus Lines provides a very important service for our community. They employ a number of local people that not only work for the bus line but who also contribute as volunteers, residents, shoppers and participants in our community.

“As business people, the Cook family and the families of their staff help to strengthen and build our community. Their dedication to our schools, children, businesses and overall community make us ex­tremely proud and I believe that this is what builds and sustains small town Ontario.”

He noted that when he managed the Foodland grocery store in Mount Forest, Cook’s provided door to store transportation for seniors of the com­munity.

“When your local businesses are your neighbours and your friends, it only helps to strengthen one’s community.”

Council, however, is now concerned the impact on all the local bus companies in Well­ing­ton North.

Council has received a copy of a petition circulating in the area which is against the request for proposal process being used by school boards in the school transportation industry. The petition states, “The RFPprocess is causing hardship to small school bus operators and their employees throughout Ontario.”

Instead, it stated “The RFPprocess has awarded school bus runs throughout Ontario to multinational school bus operators.”

The petition further claims “The Ministry of Education is using property tax to aid in the growth of multi-national own­ed school bus companies which in turn affects small local family owned school transportation companies.”

Broomhead said, the RFP process “is certainly taking away from the local level.”

While there may be a certain savings of money, Broom­head said local companies put a lot into the community.

“It’s not simply about bussing kids. There a huge concern from businesses that have lost routes - companies which have had those routes for years. There’s a lot of local people affected by this.”

Which, Broomhead said, is why he signed the petition.

Subsequently council pass­ed a resolution endorsing the petition and requested the pro­vince end the RFP process as it affects school bus transportation.

Councillor Dan Yake, who signed a similar petition, said council should take it a step further from council’s perspective and send letters to the Minister of Education and certainly the MPP representing Wellington North.

“We all know that living in this part of the country, how important it is to have local school bus drivers. They are part of the community. They know these kids, their families, they treat the kids sometimes like a parent. It’s real close knit issue, and it needs to be addressed,” he said.

“We need to take this further to show our support of local bus drivers.”

Broomhead made reference to his being asked by Cook’s Bus Line to write a letter on the company’s behalf.

Councillor John Matusinec said he totally agrees with Yake.

“My biggest concern is that once they push all these small operators out, then there is no competition left ... And the prices swing back up.”

Councillor Ross Chaulk added, “If this succeeds, there will be multi-nationals running the school bus routes.”

He said, “They will still employ some local people be­cause the head office will be elsewhere, and they’ll have to stash their buses somewhere. But they’ll use their strength, to screw wages down.”

He added that in the meantime for the other operators who will be pushed out by the multinationals, the bus routes are not the only source of income.

Chaulk said generally they are operated in conjunction with another business, such as a garage.

“If they lose this portion of their business, then the other portion of their business may not be as viable. There’s an extreme risk here, which will threaten businesses.”

 

Vol 42 Issue 23

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