Meeting may change face of transit governance

Municipal leaders will soon ask the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for a new way of governing transit in the Capital Region.

Members of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission are meeting with Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom on May 31 to request a change in transit governance, echoing a similar request by B.C. Transit’s provincial board of directors.

Commission members say their governing body is lacking full municipal representation on important transportation issues.

This doesn’t make sense that every leader can decide, through the Capital Regional District board, on big-ticket projects such as sewage treatment, but not on regional transportation issues, said commission chair and Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton.

“You’ve got a transportation plan that everyone will pay for but is only being deliberated upon by five municipalities,” he said. The commission includes two reps from Victoria and Saanich, and one each from Oak Bay, Central Saanich and Sooke.

That prompted the commission to send the light-rail project before the CRD board on May 11 for consideration to elicit more feedback, Causton said.

“It needs a wider representation,” Causton said. “In order to change that, the province needs to change that.”

Commission members will also ask the minister how more operating funding can be secured.

“We need the ability to access, for instance, gas tax money,” Causton said.

The commission takes 3.5 cents of every litre pumped in the region, but desires flexibility to raise that when needed for additional transportation services.

“That again is not in our control,” Causton said.

“We think transit in particular should be a recipient of some of the funds and we should be able to apply some of those funds raised through the carbon tax.”

emccracken@vicnews.com