Valemount’s new bus keeps the community rolling

The Valemount Community Bus Society recently invested in a new passenger bus that is now on the move, connecting seniors, youth, and children to the places and outings they love.

4 minute read

A new bus helps the community access activities both within the region and beyond

Sometimes all it takes to bring people together is a strong vision, a good set of winter tires, and the comfort of faux leather seats. The Valemount Community Bus Society (VCBS) recently invested in a new passenger activity bus. The 24-seater is now happily on the move, connecting seniors, youth, and children to places and outings they love.

Although it’s not their first, the new bus is a big step up for the Village of Valemount. Located in the northernmost part of the Columbia Basin, Valemount is well-known for its mountainous backdrop— a striking setting which can bring a full range of mountain weather. The bus upgrade is a way to keep travel safe yet still affordable, especially for organizations without access to reliable transportation. At one time, groups hoping to get from A to B had to hire a private charter, an option that made travel throughout the region more expensive and often less feasible.

“We weren’t surprised when the old bus was ready to retire,” says Brian Hanson, President of VCBS. “It was the bus’s age, the miles, the cost of ongoing upkeep.” For over ten years the bus had become part of the community, shuttling sports teams to tournaments and taking elementary classes on field trips. When Hanson learned the bus would soon not pass its commercial vehicle inspection, he knew they had to find a replacement.

This time though, it had to have heat.

“The old bus came from South Carolina. It had air conditioning, but was very cold in winter,” Hanson laughs. “It was absolutely time to find something new, a vehicle that would last for as many years as possible,” he adds. With support from Columbia Basin Trust’s ReDi Grants and other local donors, the idea of buying a new vehicle to keep people rolling went from a possibility to reality.

Hanson found the perfect bus: a newer model, built for winter conditions. In 2020 the Valemount Community Bus Society bought a brand-new Ford E450 outright. With all the paperwork in place, the bus left the lower mainland and headed northeast towards its new home in the mountains.

“It’s a great highway vehicle,” Hanson says. “When people step on the bus, they see it is well-maintained. It gives them confidence they are travelling in comfort.” Spacious seating, winter tires, rear storage, air conditioning, and of course, a heating system fit for northern climates, are just a few features that give this bus a good reputation. Plus, its dependability makes travel outside of Valemount much easier, regardless of the season.

So far, among many other adventures, the bus has taken the Junior Canadian Rangers camping in both summer and winter, brought seniors to Christmas concerts, fairs and farmer’s markets, and allowed school groups to connect with their local watershed. Not to mention, the most popular gig is getting sports teams to and from out-of-town games.

Helping community members to achieve their unique aspirations is one of many benefits of the new bus, which is why it was a great fit for the Trust’s ReDi Grants program. Supporting projects that align with community priorities and based on locally designed processes that incorporate public input in funding decisions, the program is delivered in partnership with local governments.

Although they own the shuttle, the Valemount Community Bus Society consider it to be ‘a bus for the community’ and are always looking for more people and organizations to come aboard, literally. Groups pay for the bus by the kilometre, and rentals are booked directly through the society. The only prerequisites to renting the bus are society membership, a Class 4 licence, plus a promise to return the vehicle with a full tank of gas.

Just like the lyrics in the children’s song ‘The Wheels On The Bus’, the wheels on Valemount’s activity bus are still going round and round, thanks to the support of the Trust. It may occasionally carry bags of groceries, nets of basketballs, and camping gear, but one thing that always fills the bus is community. And that is truly what makes this bus go.

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