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Juan de Fuca seniors' activity bus out of commission after catalytic converter theft

Trips to the theatre and other excursions at the all-volunteer seniors' organization have been put on halt after a catalytic converter from its bus was stolen—again

By Michael John Lo
January 22, 2023
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Juan de Fuca seniors' activity bus out of commission after catalytic converter theft

Trips to the theatre and other excursions at the all-volunteer seniors' organization have been put on halt after a catalytic converter from its bus was stolen—again

By Michael John Lo
Jan 22, 2023
Juan de Fuca 55+ Activity Centre members receiving a ceremonial check from the City of Colwood in 2014 for its then newly-arrived shuttle bus. Photo: City of Colwood
Juan de Fuca 55+ Activity Centre members receiving a ceremonial check from the City of Colwood in 2014 for its then newly-arrived shuttle bus. Photo: City of Colwood
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Juan de Fuca seniors' activity bus out of commission after catalytic converter theft

Trips to the theatre and other excursions at the all-volunteer seniors' organization have been put on halt after a catalytic converter from its bus was stolen—again

By Michael John Lo
January 22, 2023
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Juan de Fuca seniors' activity bus out of commission after catalytic converter theft
Juan de Fuca 55+ Activity Centre members receiving a ceremonial check from the City of Colwood in 2014 for its then newly-arrived shuttle bus. Photo: City of Colwood

The Juan de Fuca 55+ Activity Centre’s shuttle bus had its catalytic converter stolen for the second time in November, putting the well-loved bus out of commission.

The 24-seat bus had previously helped support a number of activities at the all-volunteer senior’s organization: singing groups that visited care homes, walks in the park, occasional trips to the theatre in Chemainus.

“Seniors getting together and being outside, going on a little trip—it’s a highlight of the week for them,” said volunteer bus driver Brian Leah. But that’s not happening until the shuttle is fixed.

“All because somebody just decided to steal,” Leah said. 

Largely shut down since the pandemic, the seniors' organization had only started accepting new memberships last September. There are close to a thousand dues-paying members at the Juan de Fuca 55+ Activity Centre, a place with a unique volunteer culture. Every activity offered by the centre is conducted by volunteer facilitators—and there are 24 activities to choose from on Monday alone, all for the yearly membership fee of $117.

“We used to have an outing on Wednesday afternoons to go to different places on the island. It was a nice thing,” said Margart Ayward, a volunteer at the Juan de Fuca 55+ Activity Centre. 

It’s not the first time the centre has been the victim of theft: the same shuttle got its catalytic converter stolen and its windows smashed in August 2021. Leah attributes the thefts to the shuttle bus being moved from its usual parking spot to a more visible spot near the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre.

There’s been an increase of converter thefts recently, said Rick Ellis of Budget Brake & Muffler, one of the repair shops in Victoria that deals with catalytic converter installations. Last week, two men were charged for catalytic converter thefts in Greater Victoria, which can be quickly cut out from vehicles with a saw tool and resold for up to $2,000, according to Victoria police. ICBC claims related to catalytic converter theft have seen a tenfold increase in the past five years.

The centre’s current bus was purchased at a discounted price from the lower mainland, an upgrade from their previous bus which had no air conditioning. Nearly 100 seniors showed up for the unveiling of the new bus almost a decade ago.

“It’s ironic—we had the bus fully serviced on the Friday [in November] and then the following Thursday, that was when the theft took place,” Leah said.

There’s still some further maintenance needed after the replacement of the catalytic converter, but the Juan de Fuca senior’s bus will eventually be back on the road, and will be parked in a secure parking space provided by the City of Colwood.

“We’re pleased to continue our support for Colwood seniors to enjoy fun and active social outings,” said Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi. Colwood had previously contributed $25,000 to the purchase of the bus in 2014.

Now that a safer parking spot has been found, all that's left is to get the bus back on the road.

“I imagine that Chemainus theatre would be very happy to have 24 [more] clients coming in to see their show,” said Leah. 

But Leah, a former police officer, still has a question on his mind. 

“With the quantity that’s getting stolen, you’d think somebody would be going: ‘Hang on, this must be a stolen one.’ Because it’s not broken, it’s just being cut off,” Leah said.

“Who’s moving these catalytic converters?”

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