In 2009 the Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society was on the verge of collapse. When the organization was created to replace the Wetaskiwin Handi-Van Society in 2007, little serious thought was given about how the organization should operate, and who should oversee day to day operations.
As a result, the service became grossly inefficient and operating expenses far exceeded revenue.
Then along came Caroline Anker armed with a great deal of courage and determination. She rolled up her sleeves and went to work with helping to reorganize the WCTS into a viable, more efficient, and sustainable operation. Results began to show. WCTS went from making 30 trips per day to a high of over 160, from reducing the true cost per trip from $30 to just over $13, and from making 10,000 trips annually to over 26,000. In order to achieve these accomplishments, many tough decisions were required.
Byron King, Transportation & Grants Coordinator, City of Wetaskiwin, noted these extraordinary efforts by Caroline and decided to nominate her to Scotiabank Game Changers.
This program recognizes and rewards the achievements of local heroes, and highlights how these individuals have demonstrated commitment and leadership to make a positive impact in their communities. King’s efforts were successful, and Caroline received:
• Four (4) Tickets to a 2014 CFL Regular-Season Game.
• Unique, pre-game experience.
• Team jersey with a Scotiabank Game Changers patch.
• Scotiabank Game Changers Official Football.
• $1,000 charitable donation to the registered charity or non-profit designated in the Game Changers nomination.
Caroline chose the Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society as her charity of choice, and on July 29th, 2014 accepted a $1000 cheque on behalf of the Society from Leduc’s Scotiabank Branch Manager, Renee Michaud.
King explained that although he values Anker’s efforts with the Transportation Society, her efforts go far beyond that. “The organizations she has worked with includes: the Wetaskiwin Seniors Centre, the Alberta Seniors Citizens Recreation Association (now known as Alberta 55), the Wetaskiwin Handi-van Society, the Women of the Moose, her church, the Legion Arms Social Club, and, of course, the Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society. With all these organizations, Caroline has not only volunteered, but also sat on the Executive Committees including many a turn as President or Chair.
Through Caroline's efforts, the Wetaskiwin Seniors Centre continues to be a thriving hub for the community. In addition, she also sat on the organizing committee for the 2005 Alberta Seniors Games in Wetaskiwin. In addition to the wonderful games, the event left Wetaskiwin with one of the finest disc golf courses in Western Canada and which is frequently used by many disc golf enthusiasts from throughout Western Canada and the Northwest United States.
However, her most significant contribution has probably been to the continuation of the handi-van service in Wetaskiwin.
Through her leadership and guidance, the Wetaskiwin Community Transportation Society has come back from the brink of disaster in 2009 to winning the Outstanding Achievement Award for the Province of Alberta's Minister's Award of Excellence in 2013. This award identified the WCTS as the outstanding nominee from all categories (Innovation, Partnership, Safe Communities, and Smaller Municipality) and recognized the program as one that has helped to inspire action and change for the community and which can be replicated elsewhere in the province.
Previously in 2012, the WCTS was recognized by Duncan & Craig as one of the top not-for-profits in the greater Edmonton area and nominated for one of its Laurel Awards. It is obvious that Wetaskiwin would be a poorer community if not for Caroline Anker. The lives of many, old and young, have been made better because of her efforts and dedication.”
Operating as Wetaskiwin Transit, the WCTS provides a subsidized handi-van service for seniors, special needs individuals, and those legally but medically unable to drive (i.e. broken leg) living in Wetaskiwin and in bordering portions of the County of Wetaskiwin. The Society is a not-for-profit society guided by a volunteer Board of Directors.
The handi-van program in Wetaskiwin originated in the mid-1970s. With no other form of public transportation (aside from the more expensive taxis), the handi-van program is essential to the quality of life in our community. The fact that ridership has increased from just over 10,000 to over 26,600 in just three years shows that there is a need and a demand for the service.