Anyone who lives on the West Shore knows that, for many, transportation is the No. 1 issue we all need to collaborate on in order to find solutions. Our future quality of life and economic health depends on an excellent transportation system – one we do not yet have. Chamber representatives, along with municipal leaders from Langford, Colwood and View Royal met recently with the provincial government’s B.C. Transit Independent Review Panel. The panels’ terms of reference, among other things, is to examine transit governance with the CRD. The WestShore Chamber of Commerce was there to speak primarily about transportation governance issues and opportunities, although we also commented generally on B.C. Transit services and operations as they affect the West Shore.
It’s not surprising our infrastructure has fallen significantly behind the population growth and its needs due to the rapid growth in our region.
However, we have seen a remarkable job of infrastructure catch-up and creation in the areas of both recreation and education. Langford has done a superb job of creating a wide variety of recreation facilities and opportunities such as bike paths, parks and trails. The West Shore Parks and Recreation centre in Colwood (despite its current political controversies) is a remarkable facility for all ages.
On the schools front, it is the combined and concerted efforts and leadership of all the local School District 62 administrators, Board and staff, local municipalities and the community that brought forth the extraordinary $100 million from the Ministry of Education to create two new high schools. This is a perfect example of how new infrastructure can be established through community efforts and collective good will. Now all we need to do is harness the “can-do” attitude of the West Shore and put it towards improving our transportation challenges.
The B.C. Transit Independent Review panel will report by the end of the summer to the Minister of Transportation and infrastructure, Blair Lekstrom. The panel will include recommendations on governance of transit issues across the province, including the Greater Victoria Region.
It’s important for West Shore citizens and businesses to realize the current B.C. Transit can and does impose property tax increases as they see fit for their operating or capital needs. It’s also important to realize that there is not a central co-ordinating body with the authority, budget and skills to oversee all of the various transportation and transit issues facing the West Shore and the Greater Victoria region.
Rather, it’s a mish mash of competing regulatory and governing bodies that do not co-ordinate or even collaborate well at times. Simply put, the current system does not work well and has little chance of helping us solve urgent West Shore transportation needs in a creative and inventive fashion.
The chamber recommends there be one overall transportation authority for the region to oversee buses, rail, highway and marine routes throughout Greater Victoria, and that any such body have heavy representation from the West Shore since the majority of transportation issues in the Greater Victoria are West Shore focused. Our council reps all agreed the West Shore needs more representation in any new structures or revisions to the existing decision-making structures.
Let’s hope the panel heard our arguments for both an overall body and for significant West Shore representation. We should be able to help shape our own transportation future in the West Shore as we already do so successfully in many other areas. This is a vibrant community and we need a vibrant comprehensive transportation system to match it.
Dan Spinner is the CEO of the
West Shore Chamber of Commerce