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Victoria council to debate giving free bus tickets, passes to the homeless

Click to play video: 'Victoria considers free bus tickets for city’s homeless' Victoria considers free bus tickets for city’s homeless
WATCH: Victoria considers free bus tickets for city's homeless – Nov 4, 2020

A pair of Victoria city councillors are proposing a plan to give free bus tickets to the region’s homeless.

The plan would take advantage of a Victoria Regional Transit Commission program that puts aside bus tickets and passes that can be bought at a discount if they’re given to low income people with urgent transit needs.

Groups can buy the tickets through the Community Social Planning Council, which are then matched one-to-one by the transit commission.

Read more: Masks now mandatory on BC Transit buses

“It would be quite a bit of a help to a lot of people just getting around,” said Clay Raymond, who has been living on the streets of Victoria for about four years.

Better access to transit would be especially valuable for the region’s homeless that live further from the city core, he added.

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“Especially since it’s coming up to winter, it’s going to be wet and rainy and stuff, and that trek in the morning is sometimes not the greatest,” he said.

Click to play video: 'Victoria homeless count and new city motion' Victoria homeless count and new city motion
Victoria homeless count and new city motion – Aug 10, 2020

The proposal from councillors Sarah Potts and Sharmarke Dubow would see the city allocate up to $10,625 for the initiative.

The motion estimates that amount would be required to provide a monthly transit pass to the estimated 250 unsheltered homeless people in Victoria.

Providing them with a sheet of 10 bus tickets per month would cost an estimated $2,812.50 per month.

Read more: Victoria approves free public transit for young residents starting in fall

“Those sheltering outdoors in Victoria are typically not in close proximity to survival services including access to shower facilities,” reads the councillors’ motion.

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Potts told Global News the initiative is a stopgap measure aimed at easing some of the hardships the city’s homeless face.

“It feels like we cannot wait any more, we need to do something to help people access the services and the facilities that they really do need,” she said.

“Ultimately, we really need to get people indoors, but in the meantime we’re hoping to be able to connect people with those services.”

If approved, Potts said the city would buy the tickets, then give them to social services agencies and outreach workers to pass on to unsheltered homeless people.

Council will debate the idea on Thursday.

— With files from Kylie Stanton

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