Published On: Tuesday, 01 November 2016

Moving Transportation Forward: Let's Not Get Stuck - Again

Moving Transportation Forward: Let's Not Get Stuck - Again

- Catherine Holt is the CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at 250-383-7191 or CEO@victoriachamber.cawww.victoriachamber.ca.

GREATER VICTORIA - Business owners and leaders have been concerned about transportation in Greater Victoria for years – if not decades. Travel times are already increasing during peak periods with commuters crowding the existing infrastructure. Given Greater Victoria’s continuing growth, it is going to get worse.

Economic growth and quality of life in the region is reliant upon considerable improvements to the infrastructure and travel options to efficiently move people and goods in, out and within the region. Fast, easy and reliable transportation modes attract and retain workers and investors.

Currently, transportation planning is difficult, complex and expensive. The 13 Greater Victoria municipalities are responsible for transportation within their boundaries, while the CRD is responsible for transportation in unincorporated areas.

Layered on top, is the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that is responsible for highways and related infrastructure - some of which runs through and between municipal areas. Then we have provincial and federal funding envelopes with different eligibility criteria as well as increasingly aggressive moves towards a low carbon economy and alternative modes of transport.  

Transportation and infrastructure projects that involve more than one municipality are managed as one-off projects and require alignment of funding and priorities. Regionally important infrastructure in a single municipality is left to that municipality to manage. Agreement of each of these municipalities is required to achieve the desired outcome; more significantly, the refusal of any one municipality prevents implementation of solutions with broader regional benefits.

Any solution to reduce travel time between the downtown core and the West Shore would cross the boundaries of Victoria, Saanich, View Royal, Colwood and Langford. To try to accomplish the same between the downtown core and the Greater Victoria Airport crosses the boundaries of Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, and North Saanich.

“With 58 per cent of transportation movements in the region crossing municipal boundaries, it is imperative that a regional lens be placed on transportation,” said CRD Board Chair, Barbara Desjardins in speaking about the CRD’s proposal for a regional transportation service. “Being able to move between municipalities is not only vital to the economic success of the region, but also provides access to health, recreation, and social structures that make our region so vibrant.”

We need to go further than the current CRD proposal. Greater Victoria needs a transportation authority with regional planning responsibility for all current and future modes of transportation. We need this entity to have the right governance, taxation power, decision-making and zoning authority, and project management capacity.

Without it, I fear we will not be able to achieve real progress towards a fast, easy and reliable regional transportation system. And for that, we will pay, one way or another.

Let's learn from what we have lived through in trying to improve our sewage treatment and avoid another 50-year debacle that threatens our reputation, businesses, economy, and quality of life.

Upcoming Events:

  • Tuesday, November 1 | Member Breakfast | 7:30 AM to 9 AM | Quality Foods – View Royal (100 – 27 Helmcken Rd.)
  • Wednesday, November 2 | A Lesson in Leadership with Olympian Adam Kreek | 2 PM to 4 PM | The Chamber (852 Fort St.)
  • Thursday, November 3 | 2017 Business Awards Information Session | Noon to 1 PM | The Chamber
  • Thursday, November 10 | Prodigy Group Mingle | 5 PM to 7 PM | Varsha (1600 Government St.)
  • Thursday, November 17 | Business Mixer | 5 PM to 7 PM | Sandman Hotel Victoria (2852 Douglas St.)
  • Friday, November 25 | 34th Annual Auction Gala | 6 PM to 10:30 PM | Union Club of BC (805 Gordon St.)