The City authorized the signing of the 2020-21 Annual Operating Agreement (AOA) with BC Transit at the regular council meeting of Tuesday, Jan. 26. 

Typically, this would have been brought before council sooner, as the AOA expires on Mar. 31, 2021.

“It does expire fairly soon, but as we know with COVID things are a little behind schedule,” explained Director of Finance and IT, Wayne Anderson. 

The City has an agreement with BC Transit to provide transit services for Merritt and TNRD Electoral Area ‘M’. Each year the budget for this transit service operation is updated every year, and a new operating agreement is prepared. 

“Included in the plan for this year there is $95,000 in funding through COVID Safe Restart for the community transit system, and that has been factored into our cost for 2020/2021 which is $163,000,” said Anderson.

The full amount for the COVID-19 BC Safe Restart funding, which offsets fare revenue losses and COVID related expenses, is $95,635. 

“We’ve had a discussion with the account manager as of last week to discuss our situation in Merritt, and we are not in as bad a situation as some municipalities,” said Anderson. 

“Obviously, you see that they are losing a lot of money on transit over the last year. We’re down about $12,000 I think on revenue this year, so it wasn’t a huge hit for us.”

Upcoming in 2022 is also a five year review of Merritt’s transit system.

“As we talk about these new developments and access for those that are in these developments, this is something that they may want to review a little deeper into our routes and scheduling and those sorts of things,” explained Anderson.

Mayor Brown noted that BC Transit is considered an essential service within the City of Merritt, and that continued operation would be imperative. 

As such, the motion that council authorize the Mayor and Corporate Officer to sign the 2020-21 AOA with BC Transit was carried with none opposed.