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Victoria County Transit to challenge Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board service suspension denial

An OC Transpo bus driving along Albert Street.
A bus is shown in this stock image.

The chair of Victoria County Transit Co-operative says the provincial regulator erred when it denied its request to temporarily suspend its service, citing a directive under the Emergency Management Act.

Perla MacLeod, who is also a Victoria County municipal councillor, said the directive was improperly applied to Victoria County Transit and they intend to work with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to reverse the decision. They have been in contact with the office of chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang about the order.

Perla MacLeod
Perla MacLeod

“We’re having some talks and we’re going to clarify that,” MacLeod said, adding the safety of county residents during the COVID-19 pandemic is the top priority.

In a brief request to the board dated March 27, director Jessie MacDonald made the request in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting the services “drivers are considered to be in the vulnerable sector, so we want to ensure their safety at this time.”

However, in its response dated March 30, the NSUARB denied the request. Instead, it directed the co-op to review the directive that was issued by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing under the Emergency Management Act, effective March 27.

“The Minister has directed that all municipally operated public transit systems are considered to be an essential service required to operate during this state of emergency and the municipality must continue to provide at least the minimum level of public transit system service necessary for employees to continue to work and people to continue to have access to services and goods,” the response states.

“The order from Minister (Chuck) Porter doesn’t apply to Victoria County Transit, as we are not a municipally funded transit,” MacLeod said.

She said the order was specifically written for transit systems in the Cape Breton and Halifax regional municipalities.

Representatives of the co-operative hadn’t yet received the letter informing of the denial prior to reading about it in the Cape Breton Post.

Strait Area Transit, which operates under the same model as Victoria County Transit, did have its request to temporarily suspend operations approved by the board. Both transit services are run out of the same office in Port Hawkesbury, which is currently closed.

The NSUARB’s response added that the Board may consider requests to reduce levels of service to a minimum level consistent with the Minister’s directive, but not to totally suspend services.


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