A pilot Community Van project aims to fill the gap for non-transit transportation in Abbotsford. Volunteers will drive vulnerable and low-income individuals and families to appointments, services and community or work participation activities.
Archway Community Services is the cornerstone agency who is running the project in partnership with the Abbotsford Homelessness Prevention and Response System.
The project is being supported by multiple organizations including the Indo-Canadian Business Association, MSA Ford, Auto Mall Collective, Hub of the Fraser Valley Community Entity, Service Canada: Reaching Home COVID-19 response funding, Auguston Town Development and Hub Motor.
“It’s inspiring to see so many organizations come on board to support the Community Van,” said Rod Santiago, Archway’s Executive Director. “Archway has a long history of responding to the needs of the community and we’re honoured to be chosen as the agency to run this pilot project.”
Abbotsford is the largest municipality in BC in terms of land area and transportation options can be limited for vulnerable populations who may not have proximity or require additional support to reach transit stops. Also, additional support may be required including trauma-informed practices for individuals who may struggle with complex issues or vulnerability. COVID-19 conditions are magnifying the need of transportation support especially for immune-compromised individuals.
“While working with clients across Archway, we’ve seen how the lack of transportation can be a significant barrier to personal health and community wellbeing,” said Megan Capp, Manager of Social Justice, Seniors and Housing at Archway. “We see this service supporting a range of individuals with complex needs who aren’t able to access standard public transport options. These may include children needing to get to school while staying in a transition house, seniors who are hesitant to access public transit, or those needing transportation to and from an extreme weather shelter”.
The firm Auguston Town Development, behind the proposed Abbotsford Tech District, is one of the supporters and recently donated $20,000 for the initiative.
“Strengthening our economy and strengthening our social safety net go hand in hand. Innovation isn’t just technology; it’s about finding new ways to solve problems and help people. We’re proud to support programs like the Community Van that make a difference for people in Abbotsford, and we look forward to continuing to be part of the conversation,” said Gavin Dew, Chief Strategic Advisor to Abbotsford Tech District.
Those interested in accessing the service or volunteering can visit Archway.ca/CommunityVan.