Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said it is “disappointing” the province’s latest transportation plan for southern Vancouver Island lacks specifics.
He made those comments while updating the public on a letter signed by 11 out of 13 mayors in Greater Victoria that asks the leaders of the three major parties running in the 2020 provincial election to answer questions organized into three broad categories, starting with child care, followed by mental health, addictions and treatment, and transportation as final category.
Concerning the subject of transportation, the mayors asked what actions (if any) the parties will take on investing in “transportation and transportation related issues on southern Vancouver lsland” and to ensure the establishment of a “type of regional governance body for transportation matters” in cooperation with local government.
The questions concerning transportation come after the province released its long-awaited South lsland Transportation Strategy this fall.
“Upon that strategy being released after over two years, quite frankly, it was a disappointment to the mayors throughout the region,” McNeil-Smith said.
He said the Victoria Regional Transit Commission had submitted very specific plans to the province for improving transit in the various subregions including the Saanich Peninsula, yet few found their way into the final strategy.
“It is disappointment that quite frankly apart from some additional bus lanes that were previously announced, there was nothing come forward specific to addressing improved transit services.”
McNeil-Smith acknowledged the changed political priorities against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. “But with the work that went into this, the aggregation of study after study that has been done in the past, and the research that was done for this strategy, it was a disappointment that there aren’t more specifics in a long-range strategy.”
As for the two other issues, the mayors highlighted the on-going challenges facing families when it comes to finding “affordable infant and toddler care” while the need for affordable before and after school care continues to grow.
As for the subject of the mental health, addictions and treatment, the mayors pressed the party leaders for additional details about how they plan to fix the challenges facing “communities stemming from the mental health and addiction crises.”
“These crises existed before COVID-19 but have been exacerbated by a toxic drug supply, the level of pandemic-related homelessness and encampments, and increasing stigma and anger from some members of our communities,” the letter reads. “Our businesses – already struggling from the economic impacts of COVID-19 – are facing increased break-ins and other challenges, as a result of increasing social disorder and unpredictable, sometimes violent behaviour from people in crisis.”
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