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Opinion: The Victoria ‘war on cars’ wouldn’t sting so much if BC Transit didn’t ‘suck’

You need amazing transit to get people out of cars - not just higher parking fees
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A RapidBus route will replace the Langford/Downtown Route 50 on April 10. (Courtesy of BC Transit)

Before moving to Victoria a few months ago (yes, I’m a newbie, which according to many readers means I’m not entitled to any opinions, but here we are), I was warned that the city had been waging a “war on cars” that would make life difficult.

You see, I’m a driver, not a cyclist or a transit user.

I don’t cycle because cycling always looks so dangerous. I don’t trust drivers to pay attention enough to not run over cyclists.

As for transit, well, I split my time back in Metro Vancouver between driving and taking buses and the SkyTrain.

I decided to see the transit system for myself once I arrived in Victoria.

But back to the “war on cars” being waged by the City of Victoria, its staff and its politicians.

Well, I’m not so sure that’s actually true, but two decisions recently reinforced that the city does work to make driving and owning a vehicle more difficult.

Like raising parking fees.

Victoria council on Feb. 17 approved several mitigation measures to lower a proposed hefty proposed property tax increase. Some of the highest-impact measures include slightly increasing parking rates and extending on-street paid parking by an hour.

If adopted, the proposed changes would see on-street paid parking go until 7 p.m. instead of the current 6 p.m., increase on-street rates by 50 cents per hour from Monday to Saturday and add that same half-loonie hike to parkades. Those moves would result in revenue boosts of $900,000, $450,000 and $900,000, respectively.

The second item was a last-minute idea to dramatically reduce the number of parking spots built for the proposed Harris Green development project – which envisions 1,600 rental units being built.

People are freaking out about both ideas. Drivers who park downtown are upset at the idea of paying more and having to pay later in the day.

People who live and park downtown are worried that building 1,600 rental units with fewer parking spaces means the Harris Green residents will simply take up more of the spaces found near the development.

“Enough is enough,” wrote Mike. “Council just keeps punishing drivers over and over, whether it’s bike lanes or parking fees.”

As a driver, I’m actually OK with this because I also recognize there is a climate crisis and we need more action. I personally am working on how to dramatically reduce my vehicle use, but admit I’m definitely not doing enough.

Discouraging vehicle use is part of the solution. What I do have an issue with is how much of a step down BC Transit is from TransLink, which runs transit in Metro Vancouver.

Like it’s not even close as far as service levels, including bus frequency.

I’ve spoken with dozens of people who say the transit here “sucks” and how this makes it tough to get out of their vehicle.

I can’t believe BC Transit hasn’t even set up a rapidbus route from Langford to downtown. It won’t even start until April and will include 23 stops. That feels like far too many to make this a significantly faster bus.

No, if you want to get people out of their vehicles, you need world-class transit and Greater Victoria doesn’t have it.

Not even close.

RELATED: Victoria budget moves eye extending paid parking hours, cutting off-leash review

Chris Campbell is an editor with Black Press Media working in the Victoria hub of newspapers. You can follow (and yell at) him on Twitter @shinebox44. (Just kidding – please don’t yell at him.)

Do you have a story tip? Email: chris.campbell@blackpress.ca.

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Chris Campbell

About the Author: Chris Campbell

I joined the Victoria News hub as an editor in 2023, bringing with me over 30 years of experience from community newspapers in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley
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