MUSKOKA – District of Muskoka councillors called the cancellation of the Corridor 11 bus service an odd, unfortunate travesty.
The council meeting on Oct. 22 was the first time all councillors had sat in a room since the Ontario Highway Transport Board put the Muskoka-to-Barrie bus service on hold after the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission lodged a complaint against it.
The service was pulled off the highway on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
Lake of Bays mayor Bob Young explained the necessity of having such a service by referencing a resident who used the service to get to eye appointments in Orillia.
“After his treatments he can’t drive a car, which means he is totally reliant on somebody else,” said Young.
He asked if anything could be done to push the licensing process out of a dead stall to get the service back.
Hammond Transportation, which had been operating the service pending approval of a temporary license, had to pull the service off the road when it failed to qualify for such a license.
The complaint by Ontario Northland seems to be almost solely responsibly for the license denial.
Now the Muskoka company is waiting for a permanent license. The process could take more than a month.
District Chair John Klinck said he found it odd a provincially funded corporation could block a private business from operating and added he would be “delighted” to pick up the phone to do what he could to hustle the process along at the provincial level.
Huntsville Coun. Fran Coleman said the cancellation of the bus was unfortunate as the service was gaining momentum by the time it had to put on the brakes.
And it was hit again with the prorogation of the provincial legislature, she said. When the operator had first learned of a complaint, calls were made to MPP Norm Miller’s office, which had spoken with the minister of northern development and mines as well as the minister of transportation.
But when the legislature was put on hold, so was any hope of moving the process along.
“It’s a true travesty,” said Coleman of the service’s seemingly temporary cancellation.
In the meantime, Bracebridge mayor Graydon Smith is encouraging councillors to write letters of support to the Ontario Highway Transport Board regarding the Corridor 11 bus.
His fellow councillors seemed to share his enthusiasm and vouched their support.