Lack of transportation keeping disabled man at home

A Comox Valley man confined to his wheelchair cannot leave his house because of lack of access to the handyDART service.

BLAIR POLISCHUK took some time this summer at the Filberg Festival to meet with fellow artist Douglas Walker.

BLAIR POLISCHUK took some time this summer at the Filberg Festival to meet with fellow artist Douglas Walker.

A Comox Valley man confined to his wheelchair cannot leave his house because of lack of access to the Comox Valley Regional District’s handyDART service.

Blair Polischuk, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and is now a quadriplegic from the degenerative disorder, lives about four kilometres south of Courtenay — near Craigdarroch Beach/north Union Bay, and just shy of the Royston boundary for service.

Despite providing service to parts of Royston, Comox, Cumberland, Courtenay and other outlying areas, the CVRD said there simply isn’t enough vehicles to service people outside its defined boundaries.

Mike Zbarsky, CVRD’s manager of transit and sustainability, said operational boundaries are based upon clients, population and amount of vehicles in service.

“It’s unfortunate those on the far side of Royston are outside the service boundary, but the service is based on the number of vehicles and the number of clients. We have just enough vehicles to service people within the boundaries,” he explained.

Zbarsky added the Comox Valley is quite large and has many rural and agricultural areas, which cannot be serviced like a city or town with a higher-density population.

“It’s not necessarily possible or cost-effective to provide the service,” he explained. “There’s not a fixed route, and it’s more time-consuming to provide the door-to-door service.”

He compared the service to regular transit service — those who live closer to transit stops have better access to the service.

“That’s how transit service works; it’s pretty much like that across the province,” he said.

But Polischuk, who said he does not want to invest in a wheelchair-accessible vehicle due to his terminal condition and can no longer use regular taxi service, explained it’s unfair to compare regular transit service to that of handyDART.

“Unlike the public transit bus system where users can walk to a bus stop, or hitch a ride if far away, handyDART will not allow a user to travel by their own means to a pickup point within a boundary if their residential address falls outside that boundary,” he noted.

“In addition, handyDART is based on booking, I believe, 48 hours in advance — buses run at set times regardless of ridership — so really, the public bus should not be used as an analogy with handyDART.”

Polischuk said he does not live in a remote area, and the general public transit system does service his area.

Zbarsky said although the handyDART service is not available to Polischuk’s residence, he is paying the same amount of taxes as someone living within the service area. Buses covering the general service area are able to accommodate mobility devices with low floors, ramps, and a kneeling function, but Zbarsky admitted it may not work for someone who needs additional assistance.

Zbarsky also noted BC Transit and the CVRD are reviewing the handyDART service, and are looking at ways to improve service. He also added the CVRD will work with the public on the transit master plan to acquire feedback this fall throughout the spring of next year.

For Polischuk though, the solution is simple: Charge more for the handyDART service for those living outside the boundaries to offset time and expense incurred.

“Accessibility is a human right. HandyDART is not meeting the needs of the handicapped community. They, and more importantly, the CVRD need to be held accountable.”

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A mother duck leads her brood of ducklings past some benches in the courtyard at Mark R Isfeld School in Courtenay. Photo by Kailena Krutzmann
Ducklings bring joy to students at Courtenay school

Brood of duckings in the courtyard at Mark R Isfeld School

The current location of Comox Valley Search and Rescue on Moray Avenue in Courtenay. Google Maps photo
Comox Valley Search and Rescue aiming to purchase a roof for their rescuers

Their goal is to raise between $1.2 and $1.5 million, approximately the purchase price of a facility

A bear is seen walking down Alderwood Place in east Courtenay Sunday (May 9) morning. Video screenshot/Kristie Cave
Video: Bears spotted throughout Comox Valley

Hide food sources, keep garbage away: conservation

Carter Woods was first across the line at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Saturday in Altstadt, Germany. File photo
Cumberland mountain biker wins World Cup race in Germany

Carter Woods of Cumberland won a World Cup mountain bike race Saturday… Continue reading

The flowers of Darmera peltata (Indian rhubarb) before the leaves emerge. Photo by Leslie Cox
DUCHESS OF DIRT: Plenty of ‘wow’ factor in the garden in spring

Leslie Cox Special to The Record I can’t help it. I like… Continue reading

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

Condemned building of the Twin Gables Motel in Crofton is not safe and yet a teen has been climbing around on the roof while others were ripping the siding off the building. (Photo submitted)
Destructive behaviour by teens wreaking havoc on Island community

Crofton residents becoming fed up with the constant vandalism and fires

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Drug users were shut out of Vancouver’s decriminalization proposal, critics say, demanding redo

The coalition is asking the city to raise the proposed drug thresholds from a 3-day supply

David and Julie Kaplan with their children Estelle and Justin. (Special to The News)
COVID-19 border closure stops B.C. family’s cross-country move

Maple Ridge couple, two kids, turned away at New Brunswick border

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna RCMP reviewing rough arrest after video shared on social media

The video shows an officer punching a man while arresting him for allegedly driving a stolen car

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
B.C. to provide three days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Most Read