WHYCOCOMAGH: Councillor John Dowling announced some good news at last Thursday’s session of Inverness Council regarding Strait Area Transit (SAT), the local busing service for which Dowling sits as chair.

“This will tie everything together: Richmond, Inverness, Port Hawkesbury, and now we’re bringing in Victoria,” he told The Reporter just after the council meeting. “It’s a nice feeling. I think things are coming together very well.”

Dowling said the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage will be contributing $30,245 for a consultant to undertake a marketing and communications project for SAT to expand into Victoria County. With that, the department will contribute up to $147,539 for SAT to purchase two accessible vehicles for use in Victoria County.

Dowling was given the good news by a letter sent from Leo Glavine, Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage. Glavine said the province developed an action plan to improve community transportation across the province. He noted that the plan will enhance existing community transit programs like SAT.

“[We want to] provide transportation options for citizens so they can access services such as health care, travel to a job or to school, and stay connected in their communities,” Glavine said.

As things now stand, Dowling said that he and SAT manager Jessie MacDonald are working with Victoria Municipal Council to iron out the details. Councillors Norman MacDonald and Fraser Patterson are taking the lead from the Victoria County side.

“This is a two-year pilot project, and Victoria County will pay nothing,” Dowling said.

“The province is looking after the funds. Jessie and her staff will administer. She’ll be looking after the day-to-day operations. The plan is to have one bus stationed in Neil’s Harbour and one in Baddeck.

“We’re hoping by May to make things official,” he said. “We have some more announcements coming, and it’s all very positive. Jessie works wonders with Strait Area Transit, and the province has recognized her abilities and what she’s done.”