Capital Regional District directors has made its pitch to the province to take control of regional transit planning.

CRD seeks driver’s seat of transit planning

Directors pitch plan to take over the Victoria Regional Transit Commission

From Sooke to Sidney, every Greater Victorian pays for transit, but not every municipality has an equal say over how their tax dollars are spent.

The unjust nature of taxation without representation was the primary argument Capital Regional District directors brought to the board table on Wednesday (May 23), when they asked to take control of regional transit planning.

If given the chance to assume the role of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, the CRD could deliver better service, make B.C. Transit spending more transparent and hold local politicians more accountable to taxpayers, directors argued.

“My colleagues in local government refer to transit in third person … it’s not a part of us,” said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard. “We take no ownership of it, we take no responsibility for it, and … we can criticize it quite freely without feeling conflicted.”

Leonard leads the CRD’s transportation select committee, which formed last year to improve regional transportation and to discuss seeking transit control with a Ministry of Transportation-appointed independent review panel. That talk came one year after the board first pitched the plan to the province.

“Even if the government does move governance to the CRD, there still is this problem around accountability on the spending side of B.C. Transit. With or without this change, that still needs to be addressed,” Leonard said. “We would like to see a mechanism by which B.C. Transit is more responsible and accountable to local government. Full stop.”

Directors expressed frustration with the makeup of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, which has representation from seven elected officials hailing from just five of 13 municipalities and one electoral district in the CRD.

While not every director felt the CRD’s proposed transit takeover would eliminate transportation planning woes in the region, most agreed the power shift would be the first step in the right direction.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, who joined the commission following November’s municipal election, expressed frustration over her municipality’s representation on the commission for the previous six years by Christopher Causton, the former mayor of Oak Bay.

Desjardins spoke in support of the increased representation, but remained on the fence over whether or not the CRD should helm transit planning – an endeavour she hopes to see approached holistically, with rail included in the conversation.

“It has to be multi-modal,” Desjardins said. “For me (B.C.) Transit is transit … They don’t do anything other than buses in this region. They can’t think outside the bus.”

Though he remains a strong proponent of the change, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin acknowledged one potential pitfall of allowing more voices in on the transportation discussion.

“The big danger of bringing it to the board is that everybody gets their small piece and so alls we ever do is fix roads, but we never, ever really collectively pool our stuff together to actually get something big that moves us forward,” Fortin said. “That’s the risk, right? We’d never actually do anything big.”

The B.C. Transit independent review panel, comprised of ex-Ministry of Finance staffer Chris Trumpy, consultant Catherine Holt and longtime transit planner John King, were receptive to the proposal, but didn’t make any promises on the future of transit governance.

“You’ve got half of the solution, maybe, but you don’t have the other half, which is the relationship with B.C. Transit,” Holt said.

The panel, now midway through meeting with local governments across the province, has until the end of August to submit recommendations based on information gathered from community consultations and B.C. Transit to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

 

Just Posted

Over 200 lives saved in first year at Victoria’s supervised consumption site

The Harbour celebrates its first anniversary with a report of zero deaths on site

Greater Victoria group helps low-income, at-risk seniors stay safe

Victoria chapter of 100+ Women Who Care donate $30,300 to Eldercare Foundation

Views, brews and food on Gulf Islands craft beer cruise

Five day cruise from Sidney to Gulf Islands, includes chef and beer historian

Saanich Mayor says ‘no costs asked of municipality’ for proposed film studio

Mayor Fred Haynes made that comment after questions from watchdog group

RCMP confirm foul play in death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Police believe crime an isolated incident

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

ICBC insurance renewals get more complicated this year

Crash history, driver risk prompt more reporting requirements

High-speed rail link would run from Vancouver to Seattle in under 1 hour: study

Annual ridership is projected to exceed three million

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

U.S. tug firm to be sentenced for 2016 spill in B.C. First Nation’s territory

The Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

Asylum figures show overall slower rate of irregular crossings into Canada

Between January and June 2019, a total of 6,707 asylum seekers crossed irregularly into Canada

Wolves not gnawing into Island’s prey population

Forestry practices, not predation, blamed for reduced numbers in prey animals

Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

Most Read