New wheels sought by Handivan Society

By Geoff Lee

February 16, 2017 12:00 AM

The Lloydminster Handivan Society is hoping to raise about $85,000 for a new handivan with the demand for transportation soaring.
“We’re doing over 12,000 trips per year in the handivan so it’s a significant number,” said Glenn Fagnan, a director of the non-profit organization.
A new unit is needed to replace an outdated back-up bus to the three newer vehicles in the fleet.
“The one we use as a backup is a 2003 with 300,000 something kilometres on it,” said Fagnan.
“It’s costing us money, so it’s time to improve.”
The four existing wheelchair handivans are low capacity vehicles used mainly to transport mobility challenged people around the city.
The new vehicle will be a 15-passenger van with adjustable seating configurations.
“You can have up to three wheelchairs on the van or up to 15 people, or any combination thereof,” said Fagnan.
He said they can also bring more people to The Olive Tree’s locations more efficiently given the current vans are limited to six seats.
“Instead of making four trips, we will only need two,” he said.
Fagnan is hopeful the new unit will be more fuel efficient because it’s smaller in dimensions and a bit more manoeuvrable than the others.
He said with the larger seating capacity, the new van will create opportunities for revenue streams.
“We can be doing corporate functions where we’re taking people to and from golf tournaments,” said Fagnan.
An official capital campaign will be launched soon asking the community to give their support to purchase the van.
“We’ll be looking for some of our corporate sponsors that have supported us in the past,” said Fagnan.
“Every time we’ve needed a van, people have come through—I know it’s a little tougher economically out there, but hopefully, it will come through.”
The upcoming fundraiser follows the recent purchase of an older model Ford with a lift for the organization’s Care-A-Van service to drive people to non emergency medical appointments in Edmonton or Saskatoon.
The two existing vehicles in the Care-A-Van fleet are not wheelchair accessible.
“Now we are able to take people to these medical appointments in Edmonton and Saskatoon with people in wheelchairs as well,” said Fagnan.
He said they were able to purchase the vehicle at an economic price.
“That’s something new that’s going to catch on—we’ve only had it for a little over a month,” he said.
Care-A-Van was launched in January 2016 with a single van that saw good usage right off the bat.
Fagnan said they averaged more than 20 people per months for the first couple of months, rising to more than 30 users a months in the last six months.
In January of this year, more than 50 people took advantage of the shuttle service.
“We’ve had up to six people going to Edmonton at one time and Saskatoon in one day,” said Fagnan.
“We’ve had to use all three vehicles a number of times the last couple of months especially in January.”

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