Province orders review of B.C. Transit

Third-party process will likely begin post-election

B.C.’s minister of Transportation and Infrastructure has ordered B.C. Transit to undergo an independent third-party review.

“It will examine the transit-system operations and performance, governance and local government consultation and communication processes, as well,” Blair Lekstrom said Wednesday.

In recent months, mayors throughout the province banded together to lobby the province for the review, amidst their growing concern that the Crown corporation cannot be counted on for transparency, accountability and adequate communication.

“(The review) is a significant step,” said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, who was among several mayors and municipal staff members who raised their concerns with Lekstrom in September.

The review will address funding formulas and governance, which Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin said will highlight the need that local control of transit move from the Victoria Regional Transit Commission to the Capital Regional District.

“I think it’s important that we have regional transportation planning (rather than a transit commission) and if we can move it to the CRD that’ll be extremely important to us,” Fortin said.

The review also provides an opportunity for a discussion on new funding sources for transit projects, said Fortin, who sits on the commission.

In response to the minister’s decision, B.C. Transit said it welcomes the review.

“It aligns with our goals of continuously improving operations and providing effective and efficient service across the province,” said Joanna Linsangan, B.C. Transit’s manager of communications. “We expect that this review will confirm our strengths and suggest ways to better meet the needs of our partners and customers.”

Local governments are pleased they will be able to provide input on the design and scope of the review.

“We didn’t want him to just agree to a review and then we not be a part of it and have it pop out at the other end,” said Leonard, who also sits at the commission table.

The process will begin with the development of the review’s terms of reference before the actual review gets underway, likely after the Nov. 19 municipal election.

“We will try and do it as quickly as we can,” Lekstrom said.

Concerned mayors will also come together post-election to discuss how they envision the review unfolding, Leonard said.

emccracken@vicnews.com