All 13 mayors in the Capital Regional Districts have reached out to Premier John Horgan and Transportation Minister Claire Trevena in a call to action to improve transportation between Victoria and the West Shore.
Central to the mayors’ demands is a demand for immediate initiatives aimed at getting a train running on the former E&N rail line between Langford and Victoria.
And while Sooke is not located on the E&N line, Mayor Maja Tait maintained that improvements to the line would have a significant impact on transportation patterns affecting all municipalities.
“If there was a possibility for our residents who are heading into Victoria to either park (in Langford) and then transfer to the train for the trip into Victoria or, even better, take the bus into Langford and then transfer to the train, it would have the effect of reducing travel times and even traffic volumes on Highway 14,” Tait said.
The mayors’ letter go on to call for a future phased approach for the rest of the line on Vancouver Island.
The letter comes after a meeting in December at which overwhelming support was expressed for the concept with input from the Island Corridor Foundation and others.
The letter drew a quick response from Trevena.
“This is no simple undertaking and it comes with many challenges. The tracks have been sitting unused for years, which means they will require significant upgrades. Any solution will require cooperation and respectful dialogue between communities along the route, First Nations, the ICF and the province,” she said.
“Before decisions are made around investing significant public dollars along the E&N corridor, an up-to-date and in-depth track and bridge assessment are necessary.”
The mayors also called for completion of rapid transit lanes to the West Shore without delay, noting that the already completed portions of these lanes have already decreased travel times and being lauded as a success by the public.
“Every time we make transportation more efficient, it means our residents spend less time commuting and more time doing the things that are important in life,” Tait said.
Tait has no illusions that the mayors’ letter will have an immediate impact but said that, with the entire region working together and speaking with a unified voice, the chances of generating some real action is increased.
“I remain optimistic that we can get something done,” said Tait.