Residents of Tsawout First Nation got a preview of a route extension, which will formally launch Jan. 2. On Dec. 12, representatives from the Tsawout First Nation, BC Transit, and the District of Central Saanich gathered at the Tsawout Administration Building for speeches and a ride of the route.
“I think like all good things it takes a little bit of time,” said Tsawout councillor Mavis Underwood, who praised the partnership with non-Indigenous stakeholders and the District of Central Saanich.
Underwood alluded to the sentiments of Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, who said “it’s not so much the first 150 years…let’s look ahead to the next 150 years and see what we can achieve together.”
Susan Brice, chair of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission, said that it was a “good reminder” that while some routes like the 26 (Dockyard/UVic) are jam-packed, less densely packed communities still need a mode of transportation, calling it a “balancing act.” Brice said that the route extension was revenue neutral, so the Commission did not have to seek additional funds for this route. Instead, planning staff reported back to the Commission and “with a little creativity,” according to Brice, they could make it work.
“This community spoke loudly and clearly about one additional missing link to their wonderful life out here,” said Brice.
Central Saanich councillor Zeb King, who attended along with fellow councillors Bob Thompson and Niall Paltiel, thanked members of the Tsawout First Nation who continued to lobby for the service.
In an earlier email, Underwood said that she has been petitioning BC Transit to extend service since the early 1980s, when she was an employee of the W̱SÁNEĆ School Board, because adult learners attending Camosun College would have to walk, hitchhike, or carpool in bad weather. That made it hard for them to complete their classes in winter.
“First Nations communities were not being surveyed in those days to assist in developing routes as they were not part of the municipal registry and BC Transit determined that there was no need or ridership in these areas.”
The new route (82 Saanichton/Sidney via Stautw) will run along Stautw Road, turn on Jimmy Road, then onto Mt. Newton Cross Road. Four new bus stops will also be built.
Correction: An earlier article cited incorrect information. There will be five trips per day, not two.