Selkirk Mobility is officially three years old, and everyone, from staff to clients, is in a celebratory mood.
A gathering took place Oct. 12 at Mobility’s offices to recognize the service that was started to provide those 65 and over as well as anyone with mobility issues a safe and dependable way to get around the city.
According to Charlene Dunning, Manager of Transportation Services for Selkirk Transit Authority, which operates Selkirk Mobility and Selkirk Transit, the three-year-anniversary provided a time to reflect on how the service has grown over the years, and was really a celebration of the people of Selkirk who have overwhelmingly embraced the service.
“From the very beginning we were overwhelmed at the public response to Selkirk Mobility. People were supportive and appreciative of our staff, who are terrific, and they were incredibly thankful there was a transportation service they could rely on,” Dunning said.
“In our first year of service we made just under 14,000 trips, which was an average of 1,157 per month. This year our average is 1,670 per month, an increase of 44 per cent, in just three years.”
Milestones all around
While Selkirk Mobility was celebrating its third anniversary, one of its first clients, Dr. Claude Murphy was on hand to enjoy the service’s milestone and one of his own – as Murphy turned 100 on Oct. 13.
His daughter, Maureen Leger, said she and her dad enjoy the drivers and are glad to have the ability to get around town so easily.
“Without the mobility service we would be looking to purchase a vehicle to adapt for him and it’s just so expensive,” Leger said.
The drivers are all wonderful, she said, and they enable her dad to get out for their regular Friday lunch dates, which is a great social activity for him. She said they’ve developed a special relationship with the drivers over the years.
“I prefer to call them chauffeurs, because that’s what they are. They’re super, they really are. Sometimes you get a different driver, which is kinda fun too.”
Keeping people connected
Dr. Murphy’s grandson, Brady, spoke at the celebration.
Brady said his grandfather grew up in Saskatchewan and was educated at the University of Manitoba where he eventually joined the teaching faculty. A decorated military veteran, Dr. Murphy served in Italy, Holland and England, to name just a view locales, during the Second World War, and, as a practising physician delivered more than 3,000 babies over his 50-year career.
Brady said his grandfather has experienced a decline in mobility over the years and the services he receives through Selkirk Mobility are extremely important.
“(Selkirk Mobility) helps him stay connected to the community and we couldn’t do without it,” Brady said.
Selkirk Mobility provides transportation to people over the age of 65, and anyone with permanent or temporary disabilities. Dunning said in 2011, 20.3 per cent of Selkirk’s population was 65 or older; the 2016 Canada Census shows an increase of 4.5 per cent to 24.8 per cent.
“Our population is ageing and we are to support them. I am so proud of the Selkirk Mobility team, they go above and beyond for our clients everyday and I’m honoured to be part of the team,” Dunning said.
Denis Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Selkirk Transit Authority board of directors, said in three short years the service has grown to be a well-respected community asset, and he thanked Mobility staff for their tremendous dedication to their jobs and their community.
“The exemplary service that is provided by the drivers, as well as the enthusiasm of our coordinator, Bonnie Turenne, and the drivers that have gone out of the way to go beyond simply driving customers to their destinations, they make each trip an experience,” Fitzpatrick said.
“Their dedication and service has resulted in two Selkirk Biz awards for Customer Service and New Business, a well deserved recognition.”
Serving our neighbours, too
Selkirk Mobility also provides transportation services for Interlake Eastern Regional Health Authority programs, as well as Inclusion Selkirk. Dunning said providing transportation to programs that offer socialization to their clients is important.
“These are significant programs. They help with mental health and socialization. Providing assistance for in-place aging is really important, and we’re able to provide that now,” Dunning said.
Selkirk Mobility has expanded its service into St. Andrews and St. Clements. It offers transportation locally and chartered trips to Winnipeg and other destinations. Service is available seven days a week, and last year, they provided transportation on Christmas Day as well.
Selkirk Mobility is fully funded, meaning it budgets for its operations and capital replacement. The service is subsidized by annual grants from the City of Selkirk and the Province of Manitoba, but the program puts money aside to upgrade and replace buses, so it doesn’t come to the city every year to fund deficits or for large grants to purchase new buses.