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'It's devastating' Hay River residents frustrated with lack of taxi service

Hay River September 2019 (Emily Blake/CBC - image credit)
Hay River September 2019 (Emily Blake/CBC - image credit)

The town of Hay River, N.W.T. has a population of almost 3,800 but the number of taxis available there is zero.

The community has been without a taxi service for several months. Before that, the service was declining and intermittent for many months, said Hay River SAO Glenn Smith.

Residents are now starting to express their frustration.

Hay River small business owner Shari Caudron has a vehicle but had trouble getting it to start after a recent cold snap.

She almost missed an appointment she had waited over a month for, she said.

'How do you get from one side of town to the other?' 

Caudron tried to call a taxi but couldn't find one.

Eventually her brother came over to help and was able to get her vehicle started but Caudron is concerned about what she would have done if that wasn't an option.

"It's pretty bad when you have to post on Facebook," she said. "You know, you wait six weeks to get a dental appointment and finally get it, and you can't go."

Having help isn't always an option for everyone, and she's also worried about people with mobility issues like herself, she said.

"How do you get from one side of town to the other or to the hospital for a doctor's appointment or to the dentist for an appointment if you don't have a mode of transportation." she asked.

'I like my independence' 

"Especially with the winter that we've had,"

Caudron said the community is usually pretty good about helping people out when they need it but that shouldn't be the only option. And not everyone is comfortable asking for help.

Some would just prefer to do tasks on their own.

"I like my independence," she said. "You don't want to have to put that burden onto somebody else. And they're so kind. But it's kind of like, I just kind of want to run my errands myself,"

Town trying to reestablish service, SAO says

Smith, the town's SAO, said the town is aware that there is a high demand for transportation services for the community and surrounding area.

He said he is hopeful that the private sector will fill the supply gap but the town is also looking at ways to help support the reestablishment of the services.

Caudron hopes the town can figure out a way to support the industry, she said.

At one point she thought about opening a taxi company herself, she added, given the strong demand. But she gave up when she realized it would require a lot of money up front with no guaranteed return on the investment.

Right now Caudron said she is worried about elders and people with mobility issues.

"I mean there's constant obstacles that you take for granted," she said. "But just getting around is a challenge in itself. And so by losing that service, then what?"

"It's devastating,"