Community stakeholders are now weighing the advantages against the expense of bringing light-rail transit to the region

Public deserves say on $1 billion light rail plan, Saanich mayor says

  • Apr. 28, 2011 9:00 a.m.

Reaction to bring B.C. Transit’s recommendation to bring a $950-million electric light-rail transit system to the region was swift – and mixed.

“The issue right now is do our taxpayers have an opportunity to comment between now and when they want a decision on May 17?” asked Saanich Mayor Frank Loenard. “That’s a pretty tight timeline on a $1-billion decision for taxpayers.”

Transit is currently paid for by fares, the province, property and fuel taxes and some advertising. For light rail, Greater Victoria residential property owners would have to pay an additional $130 to $265 in transit taxes a year, depending on how much money from senior government can be secured.

Starting May 15, they currently will already be paying $120.50 for transit in 2011. Business owners, who will pay $386 a year in transit taxes, would see that climb to between $1,300 and $2,650.

“This needs to be a partnership from all three levels of government and we need to determine what that might look like, even find out how long it would take to get an answer from the provincial and federal governments,” Leonard said. “Big picture, it’s where we need to go. But there’s some questions that need to be addressed from here to there.”

Construction on major exchanges could begin at least two years after project approval, and it would be at least four or five years before a full system is operational.

A partial build-out of the line may help, said Saanich Coun Dean Murdock, who favours it going out to the 6 Mile/Colwood interchange for $770 million.

“What’s clear here is there is no option to do nothing. There is no cheap way out of this,” he said.

“If we don’t take it all the way out to the Langford exchange at Station Avenue, we start to erode the attraction for people to get on the LRT.”

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce is reserving judgement until it can go over the plan with a fine-tooth comb.

“It’s a complex solution. It’s a lot of money,” said chamber CEO Bruce Carter, adding that future costs of a regional sewage system must also be considered. “That strain on taxpayers is significant.”

The chosen route from downtown Victoria to Saanich, View Royal, Colwood and Langford leaves Esquimalt out of the light-rail loop.

With 6,000 CFB Esquimalt employees, most of whom live on the West Shore, it makes more sense to prioritize inter-city rail along the E&N line, said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.

“The alignment they have chosen is not going to serve the region best,” she said.

Light rail is being touted as the most effective remedy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve transit ridership, reduce roadway congestion, increase property values, generate jobs and provide more cost-savings over the long run.

Also driving the project is a forecasted boom in the West Shore’s population, which is expected to climb to 122,000 by 2038.

B.C. Transit’s recommendation will go before its board of directors and the Victoria Regional Transit Commission in May, before it is submitted to the province in June.

The project is being presented in detail during open houses May 4 in Victoria and May 5 in Colwood. For details, please visit www.busonline.ca/vrrt.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Greater Victoria is a tough market, even for former homeowners

Seniors often squeezed out of the housing market due to limited income

Garry Oak Meadow Marathon underway at Cattle Point

Every Sunday in February and March Friends of Uplands Park is seeking volunteers

Saanich’s provisional police budget under fire

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria question why budget requests are rising as crime drops

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Flying squirrels found to glow pink in the dark, including two from B.C.

Squirrels from Hope and Abbotsford were included in the biologists’ database

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

No Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna this summer: organizers

COG organizers said the hope is to return to the Okanagan in 2020

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Most Read