Letter: Serious concern about the Capital Region’s transportation

Transportation in the region may soon receive two negative blows.

The first is significant traffic delays. A View Royal property at 2401 Burnside Rd., at the corner of Watkiss Way, is where B.C. Transit wishes to locate a HandyDart maintenance garage and vehicle storage.

Note: B.C .Transit, TransLink and HandyDart are simply various arms of – and under the control of the ministry of transportation and infrastructure.

B.C. Transit says that its HandyDart facility at Vanalman is too crowded and its wishes are to concentrate the facility in the centre of the Capital Region.

To satisfy B.C. Transit’s application, the Town of View Royal will have to change its Official Community Plan and create a special planning zone to accommodate a maintenance and parking facility.

Traffic will see further delay as HandyDart vehicles enter and exit the property. Nearby properties will suffer noise and fumes. The Town should be keeping the property as a park, or such, until its eventual use as the local rail transit station.

B.C. Transit should be seeking, instead, to have two facilities – keeping the one at Vanalman, east of Six Mile, and one in the west in Langford or Colwood.

There will also be complications for the former CN Rail corridor. The property in question straddles the former CN Rail right-of-way which has been preserved for “regional rail” as seen in many CRD plans.

The danger of losing the integrity of this corridor grows markedly with B.C. Transit’s proposal. Essentially, it severs a corridor that should, using surface rail transit, connect Sooke with the Universtiy of Victoria; Victoria with Saanichton, Keating, the airport and Swartz Bay; and the Royal Jubilee with Victoria General Hospital.

View Royal’s own – earlier – Official Community Plans contain statements indicating a commitment to rail transportation. How the present council holds to that commitment, under pressure from the Ministry of Transportation via its B.C. Transit arm, remains to be seen.

The vision of a Regional Rail system is at serious risk with this proposal. According to the British Columbia Transit Act (Section 3.1), B.C. Transit is to: “… plan, acquire, construct, or cause to be constructed, public passenger transportation systems and rail systems that support regional growth strategies, official community plans, and the economic development of transit service areas, [and] to provide for the maintenance and operation of those systems.”

This corridor – and the E&N – are public, rail-designated property.

The provincial government must refocus the ministry and B.C. Transit so that rail transportation becomes their priority.

Dick Faulks

View Royal

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