Sooke hits brakes on regional transportation service

Join Colwood, Langford, Metchosin and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area in opposition

Sooke councillors have again rejected a proposal for a new $2-million regional transportation authority, following the lead of Langford, Colwood and Metchosin councils, and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.

Four years ago, the Capital Regional District declared a regional transportation service a priority and set to work developing a plan for the vision with local government, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and B.C. Transit.

The new service would provide the CRD with the ability to identify top transportation priorities, co-ordinate between municipalities, integrate regional walking and cycling trails, collect and analyze data as well as advocate more effectively for government funding.

But West Shore communities are concerned their local transportation issues might take a back seat to the core municipalities.

“I don’t support it. I think it will add another layer of bureaucracy, with an overlap in service,” said Coun. Bev Berger.

Mayor Maja Tait, who represents Sooke on the regional board, said she voted to send the second version of the proposed bylaw to municipalities for approval to seek feedback.

“The current state of transportation in the region is not working. It should be more regional in focus,” she said, adding the new bylaw is scaled down in size and scope.

Coun. Rick Kasper, Sooke’s alternate on the CRD board, first favoured a regional transportation strategy when he brought it before Sooke council two years ago, now he’s not sure.

“I can’t support it in virtue of the fact other municipalities have said no to it,” he said.

If the CRD can’t get the approval of all municipal councils, the regional board has mulled the idea of a creating a new service through referendum or an alternate approval process.

Under a counter petition, an initiative is approved unless at least 10 per cent of electors sign a petition against it.

“It troubles me, but it basically says with the West Shore not agreeing and the core agreeing, it’s going to go through, and we left on the wayside again,” Berger said.

CRD staff have a counter petition would take between three and five months and would cost about $12,000, while a referendum would take four to six months and would likely cost more than $200,000.

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