Regionalized efforts could pay off for all municipalities

Capital Region municipalities should lobby province as a group, but not amalgamate

Getting important projects done requires regional co-operation. The $10-million replacement of the Craigflower Bridge using federal gas tax funds is a perfect example.

The CRD board supported the application from View Royal and Saanich to access the Federal Gas Tax funds because the Craigflower Bridge is an integral connection in a regionally significant transportation corridor.

We should consider all our major infrastructure projects in a regional context. Thirteen municipalities have 13 different lists of important projects. We’re all competing for the same pots of federal and provincial money. Let’s consolidate our lists and identify our common priorities. Speaking with a single voice will get the attention of senior governments.

For most residents of the Capital Region, the boundaries that separate Saanich from Victoria, Oak Bay and Esquimalt are immaterial. Commuters travel down our major corridors to get from home to work or school with little regard for the colour of the street signs.

Our elected officials need to start viewing the world in similar terms. We’re a region. Let’s act like one.

Transportation planning can clearly be shared. Let’s plan our transit routes, bus lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks and trails with the regional commuter in mind. Our vision for growth should be regional too. We have common values. Let’s articulate how we live up to those values through our Regional Sustainability Strategy.

Making land-use decisions at the regional level, however, doesn’t make sense and isn’t good governance.

I hear from residents that they like that they can pick up the phone and call their councillor about a neighbourhood issue. An amalgamated regional government would sever that community relationship.

We’d likely have a ward system with two or three local representatives per district on a 20- or even 50-member board. That’s too big, too far removed from local issues and local residents.

Let’s let local councils make the local land use decisions. But let’s regionalize the common services and work together on planning and implementing a regional vision. It’s better governance, better service, and it just makes sense.

Dean Murdock

Saanich councillor

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