Rapid transit corridor best bet for green grant in Victoria

Gas Tax Fund applications being prepared by city, Saanich

With a deadline looming, municipalities across the province are putting the last touches on their applications for the coveted Gas Tax Fund.

Victoria and Saanich will jointly apply for money to plan the Douglas Street Corridor in preparation for rapid transit.

“We believe … (this project) does have some of the characteristics that would be attractive to funders,” said Mark Hornell, Victoria’s assistant director of community planning.  ‘It’s regionally significant.”

Victoria’s portion of the project would be $500,000 and Saanich’s would be $250,000, he said. “That’s money well spent when you consider the overall cost of the rapid transit project would be approaching a billion dollars.”

As part of the rapid transit application, Victoria also seeks money to develop a plan to transform Rock Bay into an employment district, specializing in advanced technology and green enterprise.

Two other project proposals by staff met with some resistance from members of the city’s environment and infrastructure committee Thursday.

Staff recommended applying for money to complete upgrades to Craigflower Road and to launch a fuel-switching incentive program. It would encourage homeowners to switch from heating oil or propane to gas.

“The idea that the municipal government is going to be encouraging people to shift between oil and gas, I don’t know how much cost we would end up shouldering,” said Coun. Geoff Young. “It just does not seem central to our mission and it’s just a project that I think is better left to higher levels of government.”

Despite the concerns, Victoria council approved all three funding applications.

rholmen@vicnews.com