Laurie Miller, handivan driver in Innisfail, was concerned about smoke from the handivan’s steering column. The vehicle transported seniors to appointments around town between December 2015 and May 2016. Photo supplied

Innisfail replaces old ‘smoking’ handivan used to transport seniors

The handivan service was suspended in May when it got too hot

A temporary handivan is on the Innisfail streets after mechanical and electrical issues forced the old vehicle off the road.

Council heard at a May 28 meeting about a smoking steering column on the van, which had been transporting seniors and people with mobility issues for many months.

Council directed administration to immediately find a replacement. A new permanent community bus is on the town’s priority list and is expected to take about 90 days.

Innisfail Mayor Jim Romane said he was surprised when he first heard about the problems with the handivan at the council meeting.

“With modern conveniences in vehicles they have these days there’s no excuse to run something like that,” said Romane. “We just needed a wakeup call.”

“We didn’t realize it was in this kind of shape so let’s get it done.”

Coun. Jean Barclay said she first heard about the mechanical and air conditioning issues by Miller, at a transportation service review committee meeting in mid-May.

“When we heard from (the handivan driver) how dire things were we expedited the matter and realized it was urgent – very urgent,” said Barclay.

The handivan is owned by the Town of Innisfail and is operated by Royal Canadian Legion branch 104 in Innisfail.

Laurie Miller, handivan driver, said she was frustrated with the old handivan’s air conditioning and smoke from the steering column.

She said the seniors who travel with her weren’t aware of the mechanical issues, but knew the air conditioning was not working.

In May 2018, the Royal Canadian Legion in Innisfail and transportation service review committee recommended that the van not operate once the outside temperature hits 25 degrees.

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