Caledon Community Services survey shows more transportation a need in Caledon
by Matthew Strader
So what’s the biggest transportation need in Caledon?
It’s a question before a working group at Caledon Community Services (CCS) right now, and the one they posed to interested residents at a forum to discuss transportation in Caledon.
Fay Davy, manager of transportation services for CCS and Geraldine Aguiar, director of health services, led the discussion on Feb. 15 that explained CCS had received a Ministry of Transportation (MTO) grant to provide increased transportation services for Caledon, and was intent on filling the most pressing gaps with it. In order to achieve that, they surveyed the community, and presented the results to their working group and the public, asking attendants to weigh in on what they thought.
Davy explained that CCS had developed a strategic plan for the years 2014-17 that had identified three priorities: community engagement, operational excellence and program access. Thinking about program access in Caledon, a focus on advocating for and developing transportation options that provide increased access to programs and services became a priority.
“We linked transportation to that, because if you have programs that’s wonderful, but you need to get people to them,” Davy said.
And in a town like Caledon, transportation can be a challenge when the physical size is linked to the population size.
“We are the size of Brampton and Mississauga combined,” Davy told the room.
Staff from CCS developed an internal focus group, with representation from a number of programs and discussed the gaps they knew existed.
They then applied for and secured an grant which they have used to begin the expanded transportation program.
“The program has started,” Davy said. “But we felt we needed to do a needs assessment just to ensure we’re providing Caledon residents what they feel is needed.”
The results of that survey and the public comments gave some insight into what Caledon residents truly feel is needed here north of Mayfield Road.
The survey received approximately 90 responses and the group will now create a summary report of the results and pursue other initiatives to increase funding for community transportation.
The survey consisted of 13 questions, from age group to the purpose of travel.
Sixty per cent of the responses they received came from the 31 to 64 age group, with 33 per cent coming from the 65+ crowd, and six per cent from younger groups. And 82 per cent of their respondents were female.
The survey made clear that transportation is a need across the community. The most pressing needs are medical appointments and grocery shopping, and most paying out for transportation are spending more than $100 a month.
Among the more popular challenges was a lack of transit to Brampton, Mississauga and Toronto, cost, wait times, a 48 hour advanced booking requirement, no GO train service, traffic, mobility issues and more.
“This program and these services, if they don’t exist, there are hundreds of people that can’t exist in this community,” said CCS CEO Monty Laskin. “This is a sleeping giant and critical to the community. We want our council to also know that this survey we’ve done, we’ve done on the back of an MTO grant. We want the Town of Caledon to use the information we’re creating to support their evidence based decision-making. We want to do everything we can to shout from the roof tops, this is an important file.”