MUNICIPAL ELECTION: Transportation strategy dividing line for Victoria’s mayoral candidates

Residents concerned of growing costs; candidates offer alternatives

While traffic congestion is a regional problem, requiring a regional solution, the topic weighed heavily on the minds of many Victoria residents who demanded answers from their mayoral candidates Monday.

“I’m retired on a fixed income,” said one woman in the packed Little Fernwood Hall at the candidates’ panel discussion. “I’m really concerned about (light rail transit). I think it’s going to be really expensive … we’re a really small tax base in Victoria.”

It’s a concern shared by mayoral candidate Paul Brown.

“I like an LRT, but I don’t think it’s realistic at this time,” Brown said.

While acknowledging Greater Victoria needs a transportation strategy to deal with traffic from the West Shore, he asked: “Who’s problem is that? If we build the LRT, the major benefactors are not going to be those of us in Victoria.

“I think we should be at the table,” Brown continued. “But if we’re coming to the table to deal with your regional issue, in terms of transportation, we do expect you to come to the table and speak to our regional issue, and that would be regional policing and the fact that we’ve been carrying the ball in terms of regional homelessness.”

In response, incumbent mayor Dean Fortin questioned Brown’s logic.

“Let’s talk about some of the claims here: Western Communities, it’s their problem with congestion,” Fortin rebutted. “I remember talking to (former federal) minister (Gary) Lunn and he said ‘why don’t we just move all the head offices out of the downtown out to Langford and then we don’t have to put the light rail in.’”

“(That solution) doesn’t work for me,” said Fortin.

While Fortin acknowledged he needs to see an independent business case for light rail, he argued growing the existing bus service would cost $250 million.

“If we can get business as usual for $250 million… then why wouldn’t we invest that $250 million and get light rail?” he asked.

Mayoral candidate Steve Filipovic had a different take on the problem.

“The LRT seems to be designed to make Walmart the centre of our city, and I’m against that,” he said.

Instead, Filipovic pitched a unique solution to the ongoing challenges presented by the E&N Rail line.

He described a type of service where people could clip their vehicles together on the track in the West Shore, then unclip them once at their destination.

“A lot of people vote for train services  in the hopes that other people will get on them and clear the roads so they can drive,” Filipovic said. His system would give people access to their vehicles during the day.

“Forming a loop with vehicles would give us a good test to see if ridership develops,” he said. “After we establish that a large ridership materializes, then we can invest again in the E&N railroad.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A decade into the 100-year blueprint for restoring the Bowker Creek watershed, Soren Henrich, director of the Friends of Bowker Creek Society, feels positive about the future of conservation and daylighting of the creek. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Ten years in, Greater Victoria’s 100-year Bowker Creek blueprint gets a boost

Victoria council passes several restoration recommendations

During a press event on March 6, Const. Alex Berube, media relations officer for the West Shore RCMP, addressed a deadly shooting that occurred in Metchosin the night before. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: One man shot dead in ‘targeted incident’ on Sooke Road

Highway 14 reopens following multi-hour closure for investigation

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A resurfacing of the tennis court in Metchosin is being eyed for the community. However, funding opportunities still need to be solidified for the project. (Michelle Cabana/Black Press Media)
Renewed surface eyed for Metchosin tennis court

Funding source must first be solidified in order for project to happen

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Personal protective equipment is seen in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
$16.9 million invested to improve worker safety, strengthen B.C.’s food supply chain

Money to be used for social distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, and air circulation

More than ever before, as pandemic conditions persist, the threat of data breaches and cyberattacks continues to grow, according to SFU professor Michael Parent. (Pixabay photo)
SFU expert unveils 5 ways the COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed cybersecurity

Recognizing these changes is the first in a series of steps to mitigate them once the pandemic ends, and before the next: Michael Parent

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Most Read