Rail on Johnson Street Bridge nixed

The City of Victoria’s faint hope of finding funding partners to save the E&N rail on the Johnson Street Bridge fizzled Wednesday.

“It’s a reluctant decision that we have to take as a council,” said Coun. John Luton. “Many in this community are committed to supporting commuter rail into downtown Victoria.”

With the exception of Coun. Geoff Young, all on council voted to nix the $12-million project to include rail on the bridge.

That means the new $77-million bridge will have three lanes of traffic, two bike paths and a multi-use trail, but no train tracks.

The train’s final stop will likely be situated in Vic West instead of downtown. Wednesday’s decision marks a surprise change of direction. On Feb. 24, city council agreed to plan for the inclusion of rail at a cost of $80,000.

Two new pieces of information came to light this week, however, which swayed city councillors to end the waiting game early.

First, a grant application of $6.5 million for the inclusion of rail fell through. Second, a $21-million grant promised by the federal government in 2009 is in jeopardy.

“Staff have been advised that the agreement will not be recommended for signing by the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities until the City makes a final decision of the project scope,” wrote Victoria engeineer Mike Lai in a staff report.

A new federal budget March 22 with expected reductions, and a federal election likely on the horizon could both delay the grant for several months, the report continued.

“The City cannot commit to large purchases such as pre-ordering steel without a signed contribution agreement,” Lai said.

Victoria councillors took the news badly.

“I had something of a sleepless night trying to understand how rail does not fit the definition of public transit,” said Coun. Pam Madoff. “It’s as if everything is conspiring against us.”

Mayor Dean Fortin focused his comments on future possibilities.

“This is not the not the end of the dream, folks,” he said.

A free downtown shuttle could pick pick up commuters in Vic West and transport them to various locations in the core.

“Let us sit down and talk with B.C. Transit, and rail and corridor planners and say ‘how do we make this all work?’”

 

Just Posted

Royal Bay drama students help police train for emergency

Students helped train crisis negotiators by acting out scenarios

Westhills proposes picnic area, pier and beach by Langford Lake

The public amenity contribution is part of a proposed deal for a waterfront restaurant

Victoria BC Transit driver taken to hospital after assault

Driver attempted to stop an altercation between two people on the bus

How a scrawny kid from Oak Bay bulked into one of rugby sevens’ best

Doing it for Dylan, Oak Bay’s Connor Braid at the top of his game

CRD’s 2019 financial plan includes 23 per cent increase for capital projects

Housing, health care and wastewater projects included in 2019 plan

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

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

View Royal council to discuss proposed 3.5% tax increase tonight

Budget open house to directly precede the council meeting

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

Most Read