Saanich teams with Victoria on gas tax funding application

Changes to Douglas at the heart of planning process

Saanich and Victoria councils are hoping for a $1 million grant to help them plan for a new-and-improved Douglas Street corridor.

Saanich council last week unanimously supported a joint application with the City of Victoria seeking federal gas tax money from the Union of B.C. Municipalities to conduct “community planning work” on Douglas.

“The outcome for citizens is the two municipalities are working together on a project that would be seamless on land-use and transportation, and that’s obviously a good thing,” Mayor Frank Leonard said.

There is $3.8 million up for grabs through the gas tax fund, but there are no guarantees the joint application will receive a cent.

“This planning grant is what I call the jump ball file. Lots of people put in for proposals, and hopefully the best ones get the funding,” Leonard said.

He’s optimistic and hopeful the Douglas corridor project will prove regionally significant enough to attract the funding.

If it doesn’t, however, a planning process will still have to happen, albeit a scaled-down version.

“At the end of the day, the outcomes need to be the same. The planning objectives need to remain steadfast,” said Coun. Dean Murdock. “(With or without the grant), we need to plan for that corridor and look for the opportunities for environmental, social and economic benefits.”

Murdock says the challenge in issuing a joint application is that needs-wise, Saanich and Victoria are very different places when it comes to Douglas Street.

By determining the similarities and differences in terms of what each municipality is looking to get out of a comprehensive planning process, that will help shape what the process itself looks like, Murdock said.

Saanich planner Sharon Hvozdanski couldn’t say how much Saanich has already set aside to spend on the study if the grant application is unsuccessful.

“We have some money set aside for this study. Obviously given the importance of the corridor and the neighbourhoods, we would significantly benefit from additional funds to do more,” she said.

Applications were due on May 31. There is no word on when the UBCM will announce the grant recipients.

Victoria council supported the joint application at its May 24 meeting.

 

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

 

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