News

Light rail approval gains speed

A billion-dollar light rail project proposed for the region has received a crucial thumbs up from the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.

The governing body’s approval Tuesday comes after the Capital Regional District board agreed May 11 to let the project proceed.

It’s good news for residents rallying behind the rapid-transit system.

“I think that really moves the project along so we can spend the next few months focusing on financing and lining up funding, as well as fine-tuning the budget that comes along with the project,” said Chris Foord, spokesperson for LRT 4 CRD, a group that formed on Facebook last week as a venue for residents championing light rail.

The group’s popularity prompted members to launch www.LRT4CRD.ca last Sunday, along with a petition asking the provincial and federal governments to fund two-thirds of the total build-out of the $950-million light-rail system. Under that formula, the local share would cost $250 million.

Residents have a right to be concerned with the price tag, said Foord, adding it will be worth the investment.

“We will measure (the payback) in decades and centuries, not in years,” said Foord, a transportation planner, chair of the CRD Traffic Safety Commission, and former B.C Transit marketing manager.

At the recent CRD board meeting, it was decided a funding task force be created with B.C. Transit and the CRD at the helm to identify local ways of paying for LRT.

“There’s a limit to how much detail we can get into until we know what (provincial and federal) help we’re going to get with it,” said CRD board chair Geoff Young. “But certainly we can start talking about the options for paying for it.”

B.C. Transit’s provincial board of directors will be asked to endorse light rail on Thursday (May 26). Pending that, the company’s rapid transit business case will be finalized and submitted June 1 to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for approval.

emccracken@vicnews.com

 

 

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