Council to discuss transit with BC Transit government relations manager.

At the May 28 regular council meeting, council discussed BC Transit annual operating agreement.

According to the annual operating agreement document, this year’s total operating cost amounted to $679,690 whilst only generating $99,188 in total revenue. The City of Merritt covered $291,243 of the operating expenses.

“I just wonder how we can keep operating at such deficit,” said Councillor Dana Egan during the regular meeting.

“At some point, (BC) Transit is just going to have to raise their fees, it’s that simple,” said Mayor Michael Goetz. “We may have to start talking to them to make that happen but people who don’t have vehicles rely on that heavily; so yeah, we’re taking a bit of a shot, but it’s so we can have people move within the community and do our part to make sure our people can move around.”

“The pool, the arena, it’s a hole into which we pour money, they don’t break even,” explained Mayor Goetz. “But it’s because we need to have that to have people come to this community.”

“We are a council, it’s their business to make this work along with us, so I would say that possibly, we should at some point ask that question, ‘how do you plan on making this work but keeping it affordable,” said Goetz.

During the meeting, director of finance Kevin Natkinniemei noted the need for a fare review. “That request was formally submitted by myself so we are on that list for the back half of the year,” said Natkinniemei.

Natkinneimei also noted there was supposed to be a presentation by BC Transit on May 28, however it was deferred to the next meeting.

“It does have strategic impact and will impact how transit runs in the community and so if council can just wait until the next meeting, Elise Wren, the government relations manager will be present to answer your questions,” said Natkinneimei.

“They’ve made some decisions that will have an impact on how transit is run here.”

Wren is scheduled to present to council two weeks from May 28, appearing at the regular council meeting on Tuesday, June 11. Residents are encouraged to attend, ask questions and give feedback.