Bus company threatens to cancel SL route if it doesn’t get money from the town

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Cold Shot, the company that provides passenger bus service between Slave Lake and Edmonton (and elsewhere), is apparently losing money and had reached out to the Town of Slave Lake for help.

“They’re asking for $79,840 to continue operation,” said Mayor Frankie Ward, at council’s Jan. 23 meeting, “or they won’t be able to continue operation.”

According to the letter from Cold Shot owner Sunny Balwaria in council’s agenda package, the requested figure is based on a “fixed daily cost” of $318, over 12 months. Similar requests have been made of other towns and cities served by Cold Shot in the province, totaling $4.4 million.

The letter from Cold Shot says requests for financial support have also been sent to the federal and provincial governments, but with no success.

The company has already reduced its routes in Alberta from 11 to six, the letter continues, and “without immediate support….” the Slave Lake route might be shut down too.

Balwaria requested a response by Jan. 31.

“If we don’t receive any help from your municipality… we will no longer be able to afford the expenses,” he says.

How much do they charge for a trip to Edmonton? asked councillor Steve Adams.
The answer was $102.

“I’m not in favour of this,” Adams said.

Ward wasn’t too keen on it either.

“I struggle with subsidizing, paying for, a for-profit business, for the benefit of 600 residents,” she said.

The 600 number (actually 618) came from a table of statistics in the Cold Shot letter. It says that’s how many people in Slave Lake were served by the bus service in 2023 – up from 564 in 2022.

Councillor Ali Mouallem suggested part of Cold Shot’s problem might come from a lack of promotion.

“I constantly find that people don’t know this service exists,” he said. There are a number of businesses that don’t seem to know much about promoting themselves, he added. “Should we be help people that don’t know how to do that?”

Ward’s response was to make a motion to send a letter to Cold Shot, with regrets, declining the request for funds. It was carried.

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