Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

CRD greenlights transportation service study

There may be a regional transportation service, and later perhaps even a regional transportation authority — but first, according to Capital Regional District (CRD) officials, there shall be a regional transportation study. 

And despite Salt Spring’s Local Community Commission (LCC) sending along an arguably tepid response to the notion over the summer, electoral area director Gary Holman joined the rest of the CRD board this month in a unanimous vote before the winter break, directing their staff to complete that study even while island representatives seemed more than a little hesitant.  

Back in August, as the LCC considered responses to the CRD’s local government engagement survey on a regional transportation service, nearly every question about whether a service should be administered at a regional or local level was answered in the latter — and commissioners punctuated their response with a unanimous resolution of their own, requesting Salt Spring be excluded from any such regional service — “based on [our] current understanding,” they politely added. 

Indeed, as the “What We Heard” report on the CRD’s summer engagement with the 13 municipalities and three electoral areas in the region showed a trend of agreement among municipalities in the value of regional transportation governance, there was clearly less support within the electoral areas. On “connectivity,” for example, local officials were asked to consider whether “a focus on their residents’ ability to travel intra-municipally (within their municipality) or intra-regionally (between municipalities) would have the greatest impact on improving mobility.” CRD staff reported that while responses “leaned” regional overall, there was “not a strong level of agreement between local governments and electoral areas in the region.” 

Put more bluntly, Salt Spring representatives — and, to a lesser extent, those representing the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area — generally believe a local focus, not a regional one, would have the greatest impact on improving residents’ mobility. That opinion held on matters ranging from active transportation to new mobility services, from transit to traffic flow — “local” was the response.  

But the broad agreement among the municipalities will likely be enough to advance the proposal, according to that report — at least for now. While the threshold of “agreement” has been set at two-thirds, or at least 11 local governments and electoral areas, a service establishment will require unanimous support, again according to the report — so the two-thirds threshold is really meant to justify further investigations for the potential for changing transportation governance.  

Those investigations will proceed; in addition to the study, the CRD board tasked staff with developing an engagement plan, and scheduling a workshop for local governments, electoral areas, partner agencies and interested First Nations this spring, as well as to start planning the next stage for the concept — connectivity, grants, traffic flow and congestion analysis. If an agreement is reached among CRD board members, the regional transportation service could be in place by the end of 2024. 

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