Councillor Mark King says North Bay’s Para Bus not only will continue, it must continue.

Last week eight Para Bus drivers and three dispatchers learned they will be out of work at the end of July after PHARA (Physically Handicapped Adults’ Rehabilitation Association) terminated the organization’s contract with the City of North Bay.

The City of North Bay will be seeking to have a new operator in place well ahead of the end of the current contract. The City is bound by provincial legislation to offer equal services for transit users with disabilities.

The standard to be eligible for the Para Bus is being unable to board a conventional transit bus or to walk a distance of 175 metres to access transit due to a physical disability.

According to a release from PHARA, the employees affected will be given generous severance packages and have been provided more than 16 weeks of working notice.

PHARA says it is terminating what it calls a “joint venture” agreement between the organization and the City of North Bay in which PHARA employees operate the accessible bus service within North Bay. The City owns, funds, and maintains the Para Buses.

PHARA says the decision was “challenging and difficult,” but the organization will instead focus on providing attendant care and housing services.