People who are homeless and destitute frequently have no way to use transit due to the cost. The Transit Working Group (TWG) is working to increase the financial and social accessibility of the Metro Vancouver public transit service for people who are homeless. Many major cities in Canada and Washington State have homeless transit programs or policies and we are working on developing one for Metro Vancouver.An accessible and affordable public transit system plays an important role in the region’s social sustainability. For people who are homeless social sustainability is about maintaining social networks and personal support systems as well as accessing essential medical services, housing and employment. In this way, homeless access is not only about transportation policy but is also integral to health policies, which acknowledge the social determinants of health.Guest speakers from Calgary and Seattle presented on the range of programs in place in their cities that increase public transit access for people living in extreme poverty, including shelter residents. Speakers shared their stories of successful advocacy.
This event was a part of the Homelessness Action Week.Speakers:Karen O’Shannacery, OBC and Retired Executive Director, Lookout Emergency Aid Society Karen O'Shannacery has been a housing advocate for the homeless and disenfranchised for 45+ years. She was the Executive Director and founding member of Lookout Emergency Aid Society, creating over 1,300 minimal-barrier shelter and housing beds and serving over 10,000 people annually. In 2011 Karen was appointed to the Mayor's Task Force on Housing Affordability. She co-founded community networks including the Vancouver Urban Core Community Workers Association, Greater Vancouver Shelter Strategy and the provincial Shelter Net BC. Karen continues to advocate for people challenged by serious mental illness, addictions and homelessness. Karen has been honoured for her continuing contributions, including receiving the Order of BC and the Diamond Jubilee Medal.Bonnie Pacaud, Co-Chair FairFares CalgaryBonnie is co-founder and co-chair of Fair Fares Calgary. For 15 years Fair Fares has advocated for a Low Income Transit Pass in Calgary. Bonnie has served as Executive Director of numerous non-profit agencies including: Canadian Alliance for Self-Determination, Calgary Community Living Society, Parent Child Centre/Observation Nurseries of Calgary and Calgary Coordinated Care Society. Bonnie was a government appointee to the first board of the Persons with Developmental Disabilities Calgary Region Community Board. Bonnie received the Calgary Advisory Committee on Accessibility Award for Advocacy. Fair Fares has received both a ‘Legacy of Social Justice Award’ from the University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work and a ‘Community Spirit Award of Distinction’ for community collaboration. Bonnie was the guardian of her sister Judy who had Down Syndrome; Judy was the driving force behind the work Bonnie has done over the years.Colleen Huston, Co-Chair FairFares CalgaryColleen has been the Coordinator of Disability Action Hall for past 15 years. Colleen has been the co-chair of Fair Fares for 15 years. Members of the Disability Action Hall continually ground and guide advocacy work with an understanding of ‘nothing about us without us’ regarding social justice, basic needs, relationships, affordable accessible housing, adequate incomes and services for all Albertans. Colleen is an artist, studied at Alberta College of Art and Design, disability studies at Mount Royal University and University of Calgary. Colleen and the Disability Action Hall have received numerous awards including: Community Collaboration Award awarded to Disability Action Hall; Social Justice Encounter Legacy Award, University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work; Lifetime Achievement Award from the Developmentally Disabilities Resource Centre; Diamond Jubilee Medal by Governor General of Canada; President’s Award issued by Alberta Council of Disability Services; Mayoral Arts Award Nominee for Colin Jackson and Arlene Strom.Mark Konecny, Project Program Manager III, King County Metro - Department of TransportationMark Konecny has worked at King County Metro Transit since 1999. Mark has served on of the Puget Sound Regional Council as a member of the Regional Reduced Fare Permit task force in support of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) since 2006 . While employed as a Customer Service lead since 2000, Mark supervised the employees selling Metro Transit products to the public, and managed the sales and tracking of the Human Service Reduced Fare Ticket Program, which serves the homeless and/or low income communities in the King County region. Mark has been managing the ORCA LIFT program since its launch in March 2015. The One Regional Card for All / Low Income Fare - Transit (ORCA LIFT) is a reduced-fare program that makes transit more affordable for those who meet the program’s eligibility requirement (gross annual income of 200 percent below the federal poverty level). Prior to his tenure at King County, Mark owned and operated a successful restaurant in the Seattle area for over 21 years.Peter Greenwell, Coordinator of Homeless Programs at Collingwood Neighbourhood HousePeter has worked as a Planner for both the City of Vancouver and Metro Vancouver. He was the Director of The Gathering Place Community Centre for many years, where he worked to expand both legal assistance and health services for local residents. Peter initiated the City of Vancouver’s Extreme Weather Shelter response in the downtown core. For many years Peter served as Chair of the Vancouver City Planning Commission an advisory body to Vancouver City Council. Currently, Peter is a PhD Candidate in the Social Dimensions of Health program at the University of Victoria focussing research on the transportation access and exiting homelessness, as well as Coordinator of Homeless Programs at Collingwood Neighbourhood House.
Triple A Transit: Affordable, Available and Accessible
Triple A Transit: Affordable, Available and Accessible
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