Thunder Bay

Transit rider wants Lift Plus service to Fort William First Nation

"They have bus service on the reserve, so why can't they have Lift Plus service on the reserve?" she asked.

Rosemarie Moffitt says specialized service for people with disabilities is a matter of equality

One Thunder Bay resident says it's high time Thunder Bay Transit offered Lift Plus service for people with disabilities to and from Fort William First Nation.

Rosemarie Moffitt brought the issue to a public transit accessibility forum on Tuesday.

The Gull Bay First Nation member said she'd love to be able to work or spend time in Fort William First Nation, but can't get there. 

"I couldn't apply for a job because the interview was at the government office, and I could not be employed over there because I don't have a vehicle," she said. "And the other issue is I can't even volunteer over there."

Moffitt added, "There are three restaurants over there that I would love to go [to] for a pickerel dinner, and the only way that I can do that is to get off my ... chair and use my walker or canes, and it's a struggle."

"I just feel totally rejected and totally forlorn," she said. ​

Lift Plus only available within city boundaries

Thunder Bay transit manager Brad Loroff said specialized transit for people with disabilities historically has only operated within city boundaries. 

That remained the case after the city took over operations from HAGI at the start of this year.

But Loroff said he's open to reviewing the policy in light of feedback such as Moffitt's.

"If there's certainly discussions from people that would say that it would be something that the community should look into, that's likely a discussion that we would probably have with council," Loroff said.

Regular city buses travel to Fort William First Nation

Moffitt said transit officials have repeatedly told her Fort William First Nation is outside the city limits.

"But they have bus service on the reserve, so why can't they have Lift Plus service on the reserve?" she asked.

People with disabilities are supposed to receive equal treatment under the Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, Moffitt said.

Officials from HAGI, which used to operate the specialized transit system, told Moffitt Fort William First Nation already had its own medical transportation system for band members, she said. 

But she noted that her complaint isn't about service to band members. 

"I'm talking about the 10,000 people or more that live in Thunder Bay that want to go back and forth," Moffitt said. 

She said she'd like to see Thunder Bay Transit employ a marketing person who is sensitive to aboriginal culture and aboriginal needs. 


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