Pilot project to help Brooks residents experience the county

By Ashley Wiebe
April 2, 2018 - 3:01pm Updated: April 2, 2018 - 7:32pm


BROOKS, AB — As the province begins to make a push for rural transportation, the city of Brooks is making a move of their own.

Officials have partnered with the County of Newell to offer an event based pilot project, which will help get residents from Brooks to different areas of the county, which they may not have been able to see otherwise.

“Transportation has been identified as a barrier for people to get around the community and I think that recognizing that it is a barrier, we’re trying to make it a little bit easier,” said Brooks Mayor Barry Morishita.

The pilot project will run from April to September and will help people from the city get out and enjoy what the county has to offer.

“We had some grant money left over and so staff came up with a really great idea about what to use the extra money for and that’s to do an event transportation pilot in the County of Newell,” Morishita said.

Morishita said the funds came from a grant the region received back in 2014.

$130,000 was to be used to complete a strategic regional transportation plan.

Once that was done, staff got to work on how to use the remaining $57,000 and saw who could benefit the most.

“A lot of newcomers, when they live within our municipality, they are not necessarily aware of all the things that are available to them outside of the boundaries of Brooks,” said deputy CAO Amanda Peterson, who worked closely with the county officials on the pilot project.

“A lot of them don’t understand that Dinosaur Park is here and it’s in our backyard,” she added. “So why not open up the scope? Do something regionally and get people out within the whole region itself so that they can enjoy the things that we have to offer.”

“We always have pretty strict rules around using the handibus service and so council has, kind of, relaxed those [rules] to allow [for] the pilot, to give to whir and see what happens,” Morishita said

Up until now, only seniors and people living with a disability were able to use the handibus.

That will change on event day, when anyone can ride to and from things like the Duchess Preschool Spring Market, which is right around the corner.

“With the first event coming up here shortly, we’re going to have a full bus or two and we’ll go from there,” Morishita said.

Other events throughout the summer may include a trip to the Griffin Park Theatre and the Brooks Pro Rodeo show in June.

Peterson said there’s already some excitement building in the community and people are calling, trying to find out more information and to book their trips.

“I think it’s going to give them a better picture of the community that they live in, it’ll give them a better picture of everything that’s around them,” she said.

“The fact is that we do have an interesting demographic in Brooks,” Morishita said. “We’ve got seniors, we’ve got visible minorities, [it’s a] very multi-cultural community, so the more that we can have people involved in more events, the better we’ll all be.”

Fiscal responsibility tops list of strategic priorities for city council