A presentation on a proposed transportation service has sparked Colwood council to ask for a closer look at Capital Regional District services on a whole.
Susan Brice, chair of the CRD’s transportation committee, and CRD chief administrative officer Robert Lapham spoke to council on the proposal on Nov. 28. While council declined to support the plan, the presentation shone a light on one curious aspect of the CRD.
Brice and Lapham noted the service would be supported using existing funding slated for other CRD functions no longer operating.
“It is very concerning to think that taxpayers in our region are being billed for services that are not being provided,” said Mayor Carol Hamilton. “Or that funds provided for specific programs are being arbitrarily directed to an unrelated service.”
Council has directed City staff to investigate the feasibility of a CRD service review, and staff will initiate discussion with CAOs from municipalities around the region, as well as Lapham.
“We expect there will be agreement that many CRD services are functioning well,” said Hamilton. “But municipalities may also determine there are select programs that require a closer look. What services are being provided for our dollars, and are they the services taxpayers want?”
A follow up report is expected to come before Colwood council this month.
Transportation service on hold
Meanwhile, the CRD transportation service proposal in question has been halted while awaiting a report on the integration of municipal services in the region by provincial consultant Circle Square Solutions.
Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan believes the CRD may have gotten ahead of themselves with the service, as it remains uncertain what kind of control the CRD could have over transportation infrastructure within each individual municipality.
“I appreciate their desire to have a co-ordinated voice. What I don’t think they appreciated was the need to look at some of the other systemic issues, like governance and the amount of control that the CRD actually has or doesn’t have over various bodies like transit and local roads,” he said.
Logan remains concerned that some of the region’s smaller municipalities, Colwood included, wouldn’t have a strong voice in any CRD service.
“It’s not that we don’t support such a service but I’m not sure that the current structure would net the results that we’re hoping for.”
Langford and Sooke also declined to offer support for the service.
While Logan recognizes that Saanich and Victoria together make up more than half of the CRD’s population, he doesn’t believe that properly reflects where the transportation needs lie within the region. He would like to see the structure of any transportation service give the West Shore a stronger voice.
“I would say that since the transportation challenges occur mostly on the West Shore, that the West Shore municipalities should, in fact, have a greater say because we are impacted the most.”