Sooke council has joined with Colwood and Langford in rejecting the Capital Regional District’s proposed regional transportation service.
The new service is designed to collect data and create a unified voice on regional transportation priorities.
Saanich Coun. Susan Brice, who chairs the CRD’s regional transit commission, said the service could still be created without the Western Communities support.
“I consider it a work in progress. We’ll look at the issues raised. It’s obviously something the [CRD] board will have to take a look at closely,” Brice said.
“It’s always a challenge bringing in a new service because the municipalities, rightly, look at it and ask themselves how is this is going to improve their community?”
Sooke Coun. Bev Berger said she didn’t like the governance model, and local taxpayers would likely be on the losing end with municipalities in the downtown core.
“I think we will be better to go at it on our own with respects to dealing with the province,” she said.
Sooke Coun. Kerrie Reay echoed Berger’s concerns and pointed out B.C. Transit won’t have a seat at the table.
“I don’t believe the transportation planning model will make any significant difference for the people of Sooke,” she said.
Berger said she was also concerned about costs. Brice said any start-up costs for the service would come from existing budgets.
In the longer term, funding might come from grants, direct CRD requisitions and other forms of taxation or pooling of municipal resources.
According to the draft bylaw for the service, the maximum requisition would be $10 million.
Sooke Coun. Rick Kasper voted in favour of the proposal.
Asking senior levels of government for support of regional transportation projects, such as the McKenzie Street interchange would be more effective with a unified voice, he said.
“This is a way for municipalities to come together and try to resolve our transportation problems that we, as municipalities, are creating,” Kasper said.
“I’m more confident that it’s better to be part of a solution than bowing out and not trying to make those solutions and creating better opportunities.”
The service has received support from such municipalities as Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay.
The CRD is expected to vote on the regional transportation service early in the new year.