Supporters of a new bylaw say it could help the region secure funding for projects like the possible restoration of commuter railway service between Langford and West Victoria. Black Press File

Saanich gives regional transportation bylaw green light

Saanich has signalled its support for a regional transit body, whose critics including Mayor Richard Atwell say does not go far enough.

Council Monday voted 7-2 to signal its support for a regional transportation bylaw, which supporters say would give the Capital Regional District (CRD) influence with the provincial and federal government that it currenty lacks.

“If there is one service that cries out for a regional solution, it’s transportation,” said Coun. Susan Brice, who also chairs the Victoria Regional Transit Commission. “All of our studies show, all of us throughout this region, travel through multiple jurisdictions every single day, and there is no one who would say that transportation in this area had been solved.”

The bylaw, if approved, would make the CRD the regional lobby and receiving agency for funding from other spheres of government for potential projects like the creation of a regional commuter rail service from Langford to Victoria West along the E&N Rail corridor, a project that enjoys some support in Saanich. The region currently misses such a coordinating body, said Brice.

“With this foundation, it puts the CRD in a very, very, very good position,” she said. “We would have the platform that could deal with it regionally.”

The bylaw would also give the CRD authority to conduct transportation studies, and collect relevant data.

Coun. Judy Brownoff acknowledged the CRD can already perform many of activities found in the bylaw. “But they are spread across other services,” she said. “With this bylaw, it will be all in one area, and it will be funded appropriately.”

The bylaw calls for funding of $1.5 million with the funding cap set at $2.5 million subject subject to approval. An earlier version of the bylaw could have requisited funds of up to $10 million.

Coun. Dean Murdock said this bylaw gives the region a chance to improve its performance on regional transport issues.

Everybody has different ideas about how to handle regional transit, he said. “But I think we all start from the same place, that is we are not doing it well at the moment. This in my view is the best chance at speaking with a common voice and setting regional priorities, in speaking for the 380,000 residents of this region, who feel like their councils, their elected officials are may be not listening, when they are expressing their frustrations about trying to get around this region.”

Coun. Karen Harper agreed with this premise, but questioned whether this bylaw would achieve what it attempts to achieve.

“I don’t think it goes far enough, quite frankly,” she said. “I appreciate that we need to move in baby steps, but it seems to me these are things that we are already doing and can do at the CRD.” What the region genuinely needs is a regional transit authority, which cannot only develop plans, but also implement them on its own, she said.

Atwell agreed. Why is the CRD setting up another body to study regional transportation issues, when it can already draw on a list of them, he asked. “What is needed here is actually a proper authority that ultimately gains control of important roadways, connector roadways, portions of highways and things like that.”

Atwell also added a number of Westhore communities including Langford and Colwood have raised concerns about the substance of the new bylaw as well as the process, which could see the CRD use the alternative approval process, a form of counter petition, to approve the bylaw. CRD has not yet announced which process it will use.

Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton said this possibility constitutes the “ultimate disrespect of democratically, locally elected [councils] taked with governing their communities” in voicing Colwood’s opposition to the proposed bylaw.

“We strongly recommend, in the interest of providing good service to the Region’s municipalities, that the CRD respect the authority of municipal [councils],” she said in a letter.

Brice acknowledged critics like Hamilton, but said their case does not compel her. This said, the CRD will consider all that input before making its next move, she said. “It is not for us to concern ourselves that some municipalities have indicated a lack of support. It is up to us to come to grips with this. Saanich is the largest municipality in the region.”

Just Posted

Horses from Victoria Carriage Tours involved in second incident in three months

Witnesses: Horses veered into a parked vehicle, smashing windows, climbing onto roof with front hooves

Police briefs: Scam alert

Suspicious behaviour, mischief, car theft

Stolen Search and Rescue dog harness replaced by donation

Moxxii’s specialized harness was stolen at the Pet-A-Palooza festival

History, experiences highlight top Oak Bay stories

Oak Bay Tourism announces winners of its story writing contest

Harness for search and rescue dog stolen from Victoria pet festival

VicPD ask for public help in locating ‘irreplaceable’ item used for rescue work

PHOTOS: Puppy love makes a splash at St. Ann’s Academy

Puppies stampede, dive and do yoga at Victoria’s largest outdoor pet festival

New trial ordered for James Oler in B.C. child bride case

Meanwhile, appeal court dismisses Emily Blackmore’s appeal of guilty verdict

This trash heap in Vancouver could be yours for $3.9 million

Sitting atop 6,000 square feet, the home was built in 1912, later destroyed by fire

Team Canada’s next game postponed at Little League World Series

They’re back in action on Wednesday against Peurto Rico

Ex-Trump lawyer Cohen pleads guilty in hush-money scheme

Said he and Trump arranged payment to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Former Trump aide Paul Manafort found guilty of eight charges

A mistrial has been declared for the other 10 charges against him

Canada’s team chasing elusive gold medal at women’s baseball World Cup

Canada, ranked No. 2 behind Japan, opens play Wednesday against No. 10 Hong Kong

Former B.C. detective gets 20 months in jail for kissing teen witnesses

James Fisher, formerly with Vancouver police department, pleaded guilty to three charges in June

Most Read