When it comes to easing traffic congesting on the Trans-Canada Highway, local politicians still say public transportation is the fastest way to get people out of their cars.
“I’d much rather see them [the province] focus on the quicker fixes that will net us the best result faster. Putting bus lanes on the shoulder of roads that exist now to get the traffic moving on the Trans-Canada, that would be of benefit,” Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said, adding getting the E&N Corridor up and running is a long-term solution.
Hamilton’s comments come in response to a letter sent by Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
In the letter dated Jan. 25, Trevena said while the ministry is continuing to look at the E&N Corridor between Langford and Victoria as a possible way to improve transportation in the region, it might not be the answer everyone is looking for.
“This work is complex and restarting rail on this corridor may not be the quickest way to address the gridlock that we see today,” she said. “In the interim, we are accelerating the implementation of bus lanes along the Trans-Canada Highway to provide immediate relief to the current gridlock.”
Langford Mayor Stew Young agreed that fixing congestion problems on the highway should be addressed first and noted it should be widened with extra lanes to accommodate traffic traveling to and from the West Shore.
As for the E&N rail corridor, Young said “that corridor has to be turned over to the province so it will become their responsibility. I have to say it and I’ve been saying it for five years, get rid of the Island Corridor [Foundation] – we don’t need a non-profit controlling the most important … section of moving people on our Island.”
For years, communities on the West Shore have been calling on the provincial government to help ease traffic woes on the Trans-Canada Highway.
In November, a collection of mayors and representatives from Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Highlands, Metchosin, Esquimalt, Victoria and Saanich, met with Trevena at the legislature to discuss the daily commuter crush on the highway. That same month, the Capital Regional District also voted to move forward with the creation of a new public transportation service for the region, that would oversee various aspects of transportation and planning.
Langford Coun. Denise Blackwell agreed with Trevena.
“In my view, getting the province to work on extended bus lanes along the highway is probably the fastest,” she said. “It’s a good route, even if you just paved it and got buses going back and forth.”
Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean will lead consultations with local First Nations and municipal partners.
With files from Katherine Engqvist