While they still don’t have a set timeline, the Capital Regional District plans to revisit creating a Regional Transportation Service thanks to a motion from director David Screech, mayor of View Royal, during the Sept. 13 CRD board meeting.
His motion: That staff take the necessary measures to establish a regional transportation service within the next six months, including a counter petition process if necessary. The counter petition process portion of the wording caused discomfort in the conversation, but eventually the board reached a form of consensus, said board chair Barb Desjardins, mayor of Esquimalt.
“I think there was considerable angst about putting the stick out in front of the mouse,” she said, referencing the counter petition option. “As a mayor of a community that has experienced the heavy handed approach, I can’t support that. Collaboration has to occur, and it’s not just one community, everybody would be forcing toward this process.”
Director Nils Jensen, mayor of Oak Bay strongly supports development of a regional transportation service saying it impacts three forms of health – financial/economic, physical and social.
“For those reasons I was very pleased with the motion that was eventually passed,” Jensen said. “We will move ahead with a transportation authority, what hasn’t been decided is the mechanism to do that.”
However, some are still not convinced this is a move in the right direction. Langford Mayor Stew Young and Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton have expressed their opposition to this service in the past.
“You have to understand in the world of the CRD, services are things tax payers pay for,” Hamilton said Thursday, adding “when you’re in a service you can’t get out [easily].”
Her concern is that the lack of definition around this service will mean Colwood and other municipalities will be stuck paying for something that doesn’t benefit them or ultimately the region. Especially, as it is the province that has jurisdiction over highways and can provide the funding needed for improvements such as priority lanes for buses and people car pooling.
She also noted that the region already has the authority to go to the province to petition for funding and they don’t need to be handing their power as elected officials over to the CRD, which would just add another level of bureaucracy to the process. “People in all of our areas are looking for solutions, not for more studies.”
She suggested a task force be formed instead and simple things such as traffic counts be done, which would actually give them an idea of how many cars are travelling on what roadways, from which municipalities, and at what times. “I don’t know if that’s ever been done,” she added. “I want real solutions on the roads, not paper solutions.”
Beside some simple data collection she noted outside of the CRD, major stakeholders haven’t been asked to sit down at the same table. “There’s never been an effort made, that I’m aware of, to bring all of the stake holders together,” Hamilton noted, which includes B.C. Transit.
“I think it’s premature,” she added. “I’m not saying we shouldn’t get there but there’s a lot of work that hasn’t been done.”