The RM of Piney and Buffalo Point First Nation are on a mission to improve services to southeast Manitoba residents. 

Martin Van Osch, RM of Piney’s chief administrative officer, says they secured a Toyota Sienna hybrid van that seats seven passengers and will be used to provide transportation services in 2024.  

“It's very comfortable, very fuel efficient,” Van Osch says. “It works on electric and internal combustion engines. So given the infrastructure that's in place in Southeast Manitoba, this was the best option for us.” 

This is all part of the Buffalo Point Piney (BPP) Rent and Ride Transit Initiative, which is under the Southeast Regional Transportation Initiative. 

“One of the goals of the transit initiative … is first and foremost to provide cost-effective transit options for our residents. And secondly, we're looking at reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and really that is through multiple people ride sharing, car sharing, those sorts of things,” he says. 

The van is the first vehicle part of the initiative.  

For the second vehicle, they are focusing on accessibility to accommodate those with wheelchairs and mobility challenges. 

Van Osch says while the van is hybrid, the closest electric charging station is in Vita. The RM of Piney and Buffalo Point are working on a grant application to install them in the southeast corner of the province, more specifically on Provincial Road 210 and Highway 12. The stations will include level 3 rapid chargers and level 2 chargers.  

He says they have secured the funding, but the application has to go through the federal government.  

“We're very optimistic that we will secure this grant,” he says. “We've put a significant amount of work towards it. I can't undervalue the $5 million investment to the region. It will be a game changer for this region.” 

With files from Adi Loewen

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