B.C. Transit real estate deals raising questions

The bus company plans to transform two parcels of land it purchased in late 2010 in the Royal Oak area of Saanich into a new fleet operations and maintenance facility

B.C. Transit’s purchase of two Saanich properties last year is fuelling feelings of malcontent among municipal leaders in the Capital Region.

The bus company plans to transform two parcels of land it purchased in late 2010 in the Royal Oak area of Saanich into a new fleet operations and maintenance facility.

The properties, at 4210 and 4212 Commerce Circle, cost B.C. Transit $1.95 million and $5.2 million, respectively. The Crown corporation already owns another property in that block.

“So we have the two facilities (in Victoria and Langford) that allow us to maintain the fleet right now, but as we buy more buses, we’re going to need more space to maintain and park (them),” said Erinn Pinkerton, B.C. Transit’s director of corporate and strategic planning.

“Projected (fleet) growth is to accommodate 150 buses,” she said. “That comes down to how quick and how fast we grow, and how many (service) expansion hours we allocate to the Victoria system.”

The region’s fleet currently boasts 272 conventional buses and 53 HandyDART buses.

The Victoria and Langford depots have little room left for parking, and the company is feeling the pinch with its maintenance bays, parts and storage space, as well as parking for its HandyDart fleet, said Pinkerton.

To address that, a new facility at Commerce Circle will open in 2015. A year-long planning phase will begin in 2012. The structure is expected to take three years to construct.

The local portion of costs from the real estate purchases and the future facility won’t be billed to the Victoria transit service until it is opened, Pinkerton said, adding it’s possible more properties will be needed  to provide enough room for B.C. Transit’s expansion plans.

To answer those questions, B.C. Transit has begun a strategic planning process that will also identify whether the HandyDART service, which operates out of a third Commerce Circle property, should stay or be moved.

The purchases and facility plans should have been made sooner, said Frank Leonard, Saanich Mayor and commission member.

“How much is it going to cost our property taxpayers and our riders in 2015?” he asked. “Our riders and taxpayers are not being treated properly.”

Though Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton, as commission chair, knew about the purchases, he acknowledged “a breakdown in communication” between B.C. Transit and the transit authority.

Still, this should not detract from the value of B.C. Transit’s long-term planning when it comes to strategic land purchases.

“In my opinion, long term is a very good investment. There is value in land,” Causton said. “I don’t think the decision is wrong, I think communications have been poor.”

The reason the purchases were never presented formally is because they are “considered as a strategic acquisition, and therefore handled at the (B.C. Transit) board level,” said Pinkerton, noting the purchase was approved by B.C. Transit’s provincial board of directors, and did not have to go before the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

UVic research team creating virus-resistant washbasins for post-pandemic world

Civil engineer Rishi Gupta hopes basins will be installed in public spaces

Walk for Peace takes a virtual turn for Victoria Hospice

Residents can still register for Gordy Dodd’s 11th annual fundraiser

United Way Greater Victoria launches Hi Neighbour program in Esquimalt

Feedback sought from residents about funding for micro community projects

VicPD to reopen front counter services on Monday

No masks provided, but encouraged to be worn

Oak Bay pandemic project gets 300 submissions

Gage Gallery exhibit shows how people cope during crisis

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Most Read