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Concerns grow over funding for future of rural transportation service in Frontenac County

Click to play video: 'Concerns grow over funding for future of rural transportation service in Frontenac County'
Concerns grow over funding for future of rural transportation service in Frontenac County
WATCH: The County CAO says funding for the transportation service is not necessarily going to but cut, but that they will be reviewing the item in 2021 budget talks – Jan 27, 2020

There’s growing concern that funding for a transportation service in Frontenac County may be on the chopping block.

Frontenac Transportation Services provides the discounted bus service for rural residents to travel to Kingston, which allows them to access services that may not be available in their rural hometowns.

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David Townsend, the executive director of Southern Frontenac Community Services, oversees the transportation program that provides senior residents with discounted transportation for medical appointments, groceries, social events and other shopping needs.

“In any given year we’ll provide 6,000 rides to more than 150 unique clients,” Townsend said.

The service is funded partly by the county, the South East LHIN, with the passengers paying the difference of the fuel costs. Those who use the service are driven around by volunteers in the area.

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The trouble comes after Southern Frontenac Community Services recently dissolved a partnership with Rural Frontenac Community Services, an agency that also provides rural residents of all ages with transportation.

Click to play video: 'Frontenac County is asking for an increase in The City of Kingston’s 2019 budget'
Frontenac County is asking for an increase in The City of Kingston’s 2019 budget

This move changed the way the County of Frontenac provided funding — instead of providing one agency with $96,000 dollars, each agency received $48,000.

The county is now reviewing how it will fund transportation for the 2021 budget, which has Townsend’s clients worried.

“If the funding for that [the transportation service] doesn’t happen, will they be able to stay in their own homes as they age?” he said.
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“For them, that’s probably the biggest fear.”

Kelly Pender, CAO for Frontenac County, says just because a program is under review doesn’t mean the funding is going to be cut.

Considering the climate in the province, however, many budget items are being looked at more closely this year, Pender said.

“Provincial budgets are under pressure, municipal budgets are under pressure and county council, each year, reviews all of their budgets for all of their programs,” Pender said.

Townsend says there are still conversations to be had about the fate of the transportation system, and he suspects he’ll have to sit down with the county’s deputy warden and the mayor of South Frontenac in the coming months.

Budget talks for 2021 are set to begin this summer.

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