Greater Victoria regional transportation service plan stalls

Greater Victoria regional transportation service plan stalls

Capital Regional District chair to meet with West Shore community councils

Capital Regional District chair Barb Desjardins will meet with West Shore communities this month in an effort to save the regional transportation service.

Many councils have supported the idea of a regional transportation service, but at least three municipalities – Colwood, Langford and Sooke – have not.

Last month, the CRD decided to wait for a provincial consultant’s report on local governance before taking any more steps toward creating a regional transportation service. The report is due this month.

The report will examine integrating municipal services and governance in Greater Victoria.

“I am hoping, expecting, that through their work, they will have determined that regional transportation planning and service would be a valuable addition to our services,” said Saanich Coun. Susan Brice, who chairs the CRD select committee on transportation.

The new regional transportation service initially would consolidate CRD transportation planning and regional trails. Ultimately, efforts could be made to bring public transit under the jurisdiction of the CRD, but that would require legislative change.

Creating the new regional service at the CRD is not an easy process, requiring approval from participating bodies for funding.

The CRD pushed the plan out to all 13 Greater Victoria municipalities in late fall for response. Municipalities came back with governance and funding concerns.

“The concerns of governance are valid,” said Sooke Mayor Maja Tait.

“When you have such strong presence from the core (Victoria and Saanich) and a weighted vote, how does that work in terms of other areas getting the attention that they need, particularly when all communities will be paying for it.”

Tait said she hopes Desjardins will address the concerns and get more municipal buy-in to the plan.

“If there’s any way of making things work better for a regional perspective, I’d like to see that happen,” she said.

Still, the CRD could still push forward with the regional transportation service through an alternative approval process, but Tait would rather see a compromise or a solution that would benefit the entire region.

The CRD transportation committee will also take a further look at the plan early in the new year and hopes to address the major issues.

Not lost on Tait is that Victoria remains the economic hub for jobs and many residents commute to downtown for employment.

“What one municipality does affect the other, and it all collides in the core,” she said.