Capital Regional District directors has made its pitch to the province to take control of regional transit planning.

CRD seeks driver’s seat of transit planning

Directors pitch plan to take over the Victoria Regional Transit Commission

From Sooke to Sidney, every Greater Victorian pays for transit, but not every municipality has an equal say over how their tax dollars are spent.

The unjust nature of taxation without representation was the primary argument Capital Regional District directors brought to the board table on Wednesday (May 23), when they asked to take control of regional transit planning.

If given the chance to assume the role of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, the CRD could deliver better service, make B.C. Transit spending more transparent and hold local politicians more accountable to taxpayers, directors argued.

“My colleagues in local government refer to transit in third person … it’s not a part of us,” said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard. “We take no ownership of it, we take no responsibility for it, and … we can criticize it quite freely without feeling conflicted.”

Leonard leads the CRD’s transportation select committee, which formed last year to improve regional transportation and to discuss seeking transit control with a Ministry of Transportation-appointed independent review panel. That talk came one year after the board first pitched the plan to the province.

“Even if the government does move governance to the CRD, there still is this problem around accountability on the spending side of B.C. Transit. With or without this change, that still needs to be addressed,” Leonard said. “We would like to see a mechanism by which B.C. Transit is more responsible and accountable to local government. Full stop.”

Directors expressed frustration with the makeup of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, which has representation from seven elected officials hailing from just five of 13 municipalities and one electoral district in the CRD.

While not every director felt the CRD’s proposed transit takeover would eliminate transportation planning woes in the region, most agreed the power shift would be the first step in the right direction.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, who joined the commission following November’s municipal election, expressed frustration over her municipality’s representation on the commission for the previous six years by Christopher Causton, the former mayor of Oak Bay.

Desjardins spoke in support of the increased representation, but remained on the fence over whether or not the CRD should helm transit planning – an endeavour she hopes to see approached holistically, with rail included in the conversation.

“It has to be multi-modal,” Desjardins said. “For me (B.C.) Transit is transit … They don’t do anything other than buses in this region. They can’t think outside the bus.”

Though he remains a strong proponent of the change, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin acknowledged one potential pitfall of allowing more voices in on the transportation discussion.

“The big danger of bringing it to the board is that everybody gets their small piece and so alls we ever do is fix roads, but we never, ever really collectively pool our stuff together to actually get something big that moves us forward,” Fortin said. “That’s the risk, right? We’d never actually do anything big.”

The B.C. Transit independent review panel, comprised of ex-Ministry of Finance staffer Chris Trumpy, consultant Catherine Holt and longtime transit planner John King, were receptive to the proposal, but didn’t make any promises on the future of transit governance.

“You’ve got half of the solution, maybe, but you don’t have the other half, which is the relationship with B.C. Transit,” Holt said.

The panel, now midway through meeting with local governments across the province, has until the end of August to submit recommendations based on information gathered from community consultations and B.C. Transit to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

Just Posted

Saanich resident sends distress signal over cell-phone tower

Wes Solomonson says proposed cell-tower will undermine value of his rural Saanich home

Passengers bound for Victoria say Sunwing left them stranded in Abbotsford

Company says late arrival led to difficulties securing accommodation, transportation

Third Victoria person pricked by needle in past week

Police say this one appears to have been deliberately placed

Sooke swim team competes well at end-of-year meet

The Tyee Aquatic Club finished off 2017 strong, as multiple swimmers beat… Continue reading

Police in brief: Teens nabbed for pot smoking near Oak Bay cop shop

Yacht club thefts, fireworks found and wakeful arrest in Oak Bay this week

Community rallies behind Sooke boy with rare condition

Dozens called on government to cover cost of drug for six-year-old Landen Alexa

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

“This man is reprehensible,” tweeted former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

Jodi Moskal discovered the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club continues to ban women as members, as it has done since opening in 1909.

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

The false alarm came two days after Hawaii’s emergency management department sent a mistaken warning

Toronto girl dies after being pinned between vehicles while picked up from school

Police say an SUV with no driver in it rolled forward and pinned the girl against her father’s car

Saanich signals support for in-fill developments in Gorge-Tillicum

The Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood continues to experience infill. Council’s committee-of-the-whole signaled Saanich’s support… Continue reading

Senior randomly stabbed in B.C. mall food court

Woman arrested after victim, 71, suffers serious injuries

Most Read