The Royal Canadian Legion in Houston is looking for a new van for its shuttle service. (Royal Canadian Legion Branch 249 photo)

The Royal Canadian Legion in Houston is looking for a new van for its shuttle service. (Royal Canadian Legion Branch 249 photo)

Legion seeks new van for community shuttle service

And asks District for grant to offset operating costs

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 249 in Houston is on the search for money to purchase a new passenger van for its shuttle service.

Its current van, obtained with the help of community partners, is in line for a replacement.

The van dates back to 2016, the year the Legion began offering a shuttle service at no charge to veterans and seniors and with a modest charge for others.

But now with the Legion needing to replace the vehicle, it’s applied to two programs for the required money, says Legion executive secretary Joanne Woodbeck.

“We have submitted two grant proposals for funding for a new van next year. One from New Horizons for Seniors Program, and the second one from BC Gaming. These proposals are pending approval,” she said.

At the same time, the Legion has asked the District of Houston for $5,400 to offset the higher than normal expenses the shuttle services is experiencing since the COVID-19 pandemic of this spring.

“With these funds, we will be able to continue providing this essential service for our seniors who reside within our community,” Legion president Don Woodbeck wrote in a request letter to council.

Since mid-March, the demand for rides from seniors has more than doubled compared to last year, he noted.

On average, the Legion provides 90 rides for seniors each month, including rides for medical appointments, prescription pick ups, errands and grocery pick ups.

And since March, the Legion has also assisted some low income families at no charge to ensure they receive medications and other essential items when they could not leave their home.

The Legion, up until now, has been able to maintain the service without outside support.

In addition to the free service for veterans and seniors needing to travel anywhere within the District of Houston limits, other people may also use the service at a $5 charge for the driver and a $5 charge to cover shuttle operating expenses.

The Legion has two drivers providing the service, covering nights, days and weekends.

The Legion request comes at a time when the District set aside $100,000 from a larger COVID-19 relief grant provided to it by the provincial government to use as needed to cover costs arising from the pandemic.