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Senior association’s van ready for customers

Modified to take passengers with mobility challenges
The Houston Seniors Citizen Association’s van for people with mobility challenges is back on the road after a long absence. (Angelique Houlihan photo/Houston Today)

The Houston Senior Citizens Association van suitable for people with mobility challenges is back on the road but with few customers, reports association president Ted Metz.

Since it entered service in early July just one person has booked the wheelchair-accessible van purchased several decades ago but then put into storage nearly seven years ago until this year.

That may be because word has not spread quickly that the 11-passenger 1992 GMC rally is available again, Metz said. It’s been modified so that two wheelchairs can be placed at the rear via access through back doors.

But it may also be that the service depends upon donations as the association does not have a grant of its own to use, he added.

“We can’t operate this free of charge,” Metz said. “The price of fuel, insurance — it all adds up pretty fast. It’s got a big engine so it burns quite a bit of fuel.”

Public interest in having an accessible service in Houston and area grew in late spring after resident David Manahan wrote to the District of Houston council and then appeared before council to outline his own experiences after an accident put him into a wheelchair during his rehabilitation.

Manahan said a service was needed in Houston and area. He noted that while the provincial ambulance service can be used for medical or other appointments by people in wheelchairs or who have other mobility challenges, its real job is to respond to emergencies.

Private vehicles are simply not equipped for convenience or safety, Manahan added.

Even as Manahan was making the case for a dedicated service, the seniors association was formulating its own plans to put its van back on the road.

In part that was because of ambulance personnel shortages and the need to keep ambulances ready for emergencies, said Metz.

The van passed a mechanical inspection and made roadworthy, including insurance, for approximately $2,500 by dipping into the association’s own coffers.

But in recognizing the van’s age, the association is embarking upon an effort to raise the money to purchase a new one.

“We’re in the process. We’ve got a bit of a committee together,” said Metz.

The committee includes Marian Ells, Houston Link to Learning’s manager who will coordinate grant applications.

Metz and another senior association member, Glenn Proctor, are taking bookings for the current van. Proctor can be reached at 250-845-4390 and Metz at 250-845-7008.

About the Author: Rod Link

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