Douglas business group blasts transit plan

A group representing 300 Douglas Street businesses is contesting the validity of B.C Transit’s rapid transit plans for the Douglas Corridor.

The transit authority should include cheaper alternatives in its business case to the B.C. Ministry of Transportation that would address traffic congestion, according to the Douglas Street Business Assocation.

Choice is encouraged by the Ministry of Transportation, and on that basis B.C. Transit’s business case should be considered “null and void,” said Bev Highton, association chair, adding that one of the choices should be high occupancy vehicle lanes.

The group believes a light-rail corridor will negatively impact Douglas Street commerce.

“It is called the Victoria Regional Rapid Transit Project,” said B.C. Transit spokesperson Joanna Linsangan. “Rapid transit, by definition, runs on an exclusive right-of-way and this was set out right from the beginning.”

B.C. Transit’s long-term plan includes installing either light rail or rapid busing on a dedicated corridor running from downtown Victoria to the West Shore. Saanich and Victoria councils have endorsed the plan.

“Let’s study these things,” Highton said. “All of these things haven’t been properly looked at, properly analyzed and properly vetted.”

But the transit authority says its business case, which is expected to go to the Ministry of Transportation this spring or summer, has received due diligence.

“We were very intent on ensuring we made this as public a process as possible,” Linsangan said.

B.C. Transit is holding two open houses on the regional rapid-transit project on May 4 from noon to 7 p.m. at Victoria City Hall, and on May 5 from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Juan de Fuca Kinsmen field house, 1767 Island Hwy.

 

emccraken@vicnews.com