John MacInnes and George Garrett of the newly-formed Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society came to Langley Township council earlier this month to ask for financial assistance.

Township considers grant for volunteer cancer drivers

Newly-formed charitable program provides free rides for cancer patients

The newly formed Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society (VCDS) has asked the Township of Langley for a $5,000 grant to help cover the cost of providing free rides for cancer patients undergoing treatment.

During their appearance before Township council on July 11, society vice-president George Garrett and director John MacInnes said they missed the deadline for grant applications because their program only got going a few months ago.

“We didn’t exist until January of this year,” Garrett said.

“We began providing free transportation to cancer patients on Feb. 29.”

The fledgling society aims to fill the gap created when the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) cancelled its Volunteer Driver Program last fall to save money.

“It left a lot of people stranded,” MacInnes said.

“The last thing that cancer patients need is more stress.”

In May, the new service provided 291 trips for cancer patients, 25 of them in Langley.

MacInnes said the number of rides is going up as word of the new service gets out.

To cover the 41 cents a kilometre rate the charity wants to pay drivers and the cost of bridge tolls, will run about $90,000 to $100,000 a year, the society estimates.

So far, the VCDS has obtained funding from Delta, Surrey, North Vancouver city, North Vancouver district, as well as the Surrey firefighters charity, and confirmation of support from the Langley Township firefighters charity.

The request to the Township was referred to the Council Priorities Committee, which holds its next meeting in September.

Langley City is not expected to consider the funding request until the next round of grant applications is reviewed for next year.

The VCDS obtained registered charity status on June 13.

The new service operates in Langley, Abbotsford, Surrey, White Rock, Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody, the North Shore, Delta and part of New Westminster.

Service to other communities in the Lower Mainland is offered by the Freemason’s Cancer Car Program.

More information can be found here.

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