Cornwall backtracks on transit, voting to stay in T3 contract

Nigel Armstrong
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Cornwall councillor Peter Meggs, left, enters council chambers for the June monthly meeting Wednesday, where transit was on the agenda. He shared a brief word with transit supporters at the meeting including, front row centre, Linda Bain and Teresa Miller. Miller lives in Bonshaw but gets rides into Cornwall to pick up transit to get into Charlottetown.

Coun. Frizzell, McCourt warn there is no money to pay for it

Cornwall town council voted Wednesday to keep the town in the T3 transit contract, despite no money to pay for it, warned some councillors.

The vote came on a motion from Counsellor Marlene Hunt at the end of the June monthly meeting, calling on council to overturn its vote to pull out.

That decision was made at the December council meeting but the contract required six months notice, which meant the service was to stop the end of June.

Negotiations since then came up with nothing substantial, said Coun. Minerva McCourt, chairwoman of the finance and administration committee.

With a full house of council in attendance for this vote, Couns. McCourt and Corey Frizzell voted to keep pulling out of transit. Supporting the decision to stay were Couns. Irene Dawson, Parker Beer, the motion presenter Marlene Hunt and its seconder, Peter Meggs.

In December, Couns. Dawson and Beer had voted to end the transit contract, but changed for this vote.

Not a flip-flop, said Dawson.

"It is an educated decision I have made based on fact, not on fiction or fancy," she said.

"I don't think it's quite right to make a determination now with only four months left in our mandate and a new council coming in," she said.

Dawson said other transit formats are likely available, but that Cornwall can't be in the business of negotiating side or alternate deals without cooperating with T3 partners Stratford and Charlottetown.

Coun. Corey Frizzell warned the council that other town business, including low fine revenues and high legal fees are going to put the town behind budget.

"Extending transit another six months will add another $40,000, plus/minus, to the town's expenditures," said Frizzell.

That could all combine to put the town $90,000 over budget at the end of the fiscal year, he said.

"I think driving empty buses around is not a sustainable method of public transportation," he said.

Frizzell said alternatives might be a car-sharing system, or a taxi-sharing model, or a transit system using vans.

McCourt said that given the annual transit fee, combined with a bus replacement cost, then divided by the number of residents who actually take the bus, the town subsides each transit user by over $2,000.

Some 13 members of the public quietly watched proceedings, clapping when the vote came in support of transit.

Resident Nancy Riley said after the meeting that much work remains in the fight to keep transit in Cornwall.

"We have time to look into more options," she said. "The council was not willing to start a sub-committee that would look at other avenues to keep transit going."

The committee idea was suggested to council earlier this year, said Riley.

"Maybe this is what we are going to have start, our own sub-committee and put some ideas down on paper and get ready for the election."

Municipal elections on P.E.I. are scheduled for November 3 this year.

Organizations: Cornwall town council

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Recent comments

  • Bus Rider
    June 20, 2014 - 11:07

    The numbers of the transit have dropped since the original decision as people have looked to make alternative travel plans with the end of the service in sight so the figure of 20 riders in a misleading one. I am intrigued as to where the $80,000 that in previous years has been allocated to the transit fund will be re-allocated to if the transit doesn't run 2015? I would like to see Cornwall council pushing the transit more. The schedule used to be featured in the town newsletter but that is no longer the case. I know its Trius service but if the council were to help with promotion it may help numbers. I dont believe that Cornwall should continue blindly paying out large sums of money to prop up the transit service but I do believe the town has to offer a viable alternative. The town cannot continue to allow the construction of duplexes and "senior friendly" housing and market itself as a spot to commute into work in Charlottetown with any transport options Welcome to Cornwall - Car or GTFO

  • Bye-Bye Irene
    June 19, 2014 - 12:09

    "In December, Couns. Dawson and Beer had voted to end the transit contract, but changed for this vote. Not a flip-flop, said Dawson. "It is an educated decision I have made based on fact, not on fiction or fancy," she said." What facts are Dawson and Beer basing their decision on? Ridership? All time low. Money? More now than ever before and it's going to cost more in the future. If a politician changes their vote without just cause, that is a flip-flop and that is just what Dawson and Beer did. It's time for these two to retire: they been on council since the 1990s! HOpe Frizzell can recruit some good candidates.

  • Amanda
    June 19, 2014 - 10:13

    I'm from Cornwall and that bus transit's got to go! There are a handful of people who ride it and all Cornwallians are going to be penalized for it... bring it to a town vote!!!!

  • Cornwallian
    June 19, 2014 - 09:59

    I don't know about you guys but I certainly do not want my taxes going towards the transit. This is outrageous. Paying $4000 pp to take the transit for very little people that take it. No thank you!!! Council needs a change vote out Dawson, Hunt and Parker.

  • Town wonderer
    June 19, 2014 - 07:42

    What is surprising here is that the last council seemed to have hundred of thousands in surpluses every year (with a freeze in my property taxes) and in one mandate this group is now that far in the red. My question is how many extra staff have they hired in the last four years? Is it legal fees or is it for other reasons? What are the extra legal fees for? What have we been kept in the dark about? Where is the leadership?

  • Bus Driver
    June 19, 2014 - 06:03

    Frizzell blames "low fine revenues and high legal fees" as justification for cutting budget for bus? Expect to start getting fined Cornwallians! Or fire your lawyers.

  • Sean
    June 19, 2014 - 06:02

    Get government grants to fund the transit heck there is grants for just about anything else out there. My family started taking it as with the cost of gas now with what it is. We park in cornwall and ride in and out each day the bus is great it has saved us hundreds on gas. I dont ever wanna see this go

    • RE: Sean
      June 19, 2014 - 07:59

      So Cornwall property taxes are used to support riders from outside the Town on a transit system costs Cornwall $80,000 a year with 20 people riding it. That works out to subsidizing each rider $4000 a year! Irene Marlene Peter and Parker: vote these fools out in November Cornwall!

  • Jimbo Johnson
    June 19, 2014 - 02:25

    Frizzell voted against transit because there isn't enough money; well maybe if he didn't blow thousands getting rid of the pine trees that he hated so much a few years back there would be enough dollars left in the treasure chest to subsidize gas for a bus.

    • lou lou annie
      June 19, 2014 - 07:36

      Jimbo, not sure what you are talking about.....please post a link? Seems to me that he did not cut any trees down, he just commented on how unattractive they are. Please get facts straight before you post.

    • Jimbo Johnson
      June 19, 2014 - 10:16

      FACTS! I don't need no steenkin facts!