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

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

More transit resources needed in Sooke, says mayor

Maja Tait votes against proposal for fare-free public transit for youth

Saanich Subway restaurant robbed at knifepoint

Police ask witnesses to come forward

RCMP to stop providing security for Prince Harry and Meghan

Public safety minister says RCMP has been helping UK police intermittently since November

West Shore RCMP busts alleged drug dealer operating out of View Royal apartment

Officers found cocaine, xanax, magic mushrooms and more

First arrests made at BC Legislature after demonstrators spray chalk on property

Legislature security arrested two people, allegedly for mischief

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

What’s happening: Coronavirus forges on, as world hunts solutions

Japan closes all elementary, middle and high schools until spring holidays in late March

RCMP, hereditary chiefs reach deal to end police patrols of Wet’suwet’en lands

Withdrawal opens door for talks today between hereditary chiefs, province and federal gov

Should you shave your beard to stop COVID-19? The U.S. CDC has a guide

Facial hair could be a big no-no if COVID-19 reaches pandemic status

Canada’s 13th coronavirus case confirmed as husband of 12th patient

More than 81,000 cases of COVID-19 have occurred since the virus emerged in China

Shuswap boy wins hockey stick from NHL hero with rock, paper, scissors

Chase’s Payton Koch’s exchange with Minnesota Wild’s Kevin Fiala caught on camera

Surrey will replace its RCMP force with municipal police, province confirms

City of Surrey has been authorized to set up its own city police force

UPDATE: Son, 5, dies in hospital after crash that killed dad, older son on B.C. highway

Mike Cochlin and sons Liam and Quinn were travelling on Highway 5A

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs to meet today with federal and B.C. governments

Nationwide rail and road blockades have been popping up for weeks

Most Read