A rail solution for the Douglas corridor

Saanich clear on need for rail in future transit plans
Natalie North, Saanich News

Buses are not the solution for all the region’s transit troubles. That was the unanimous message delivered to B.C. Transit at Monday night’s Saanich council meeting.

Saanichites have been harbouring growing concerns that the massive regional transit plan in development at B.C. Transit was slanted toward rubber-tired street cars after hearing comments made by premier Gordon Campbell at this month’s Union of Municipalities of B.C. meeting, Saanich councillor Dean Murdock said.

“I think it would be to our benefit to have a rail-based solution,” Murdock said. “We wanted to reinforce with BC Transit that we want that part of the discussion to remain open and we want a guarantee that the decision hadn’t already been made in advance.”

Murdock was unaware, prior to B.C. Transit’s Oct. 18 presentation, that three different solutions could be selected for each of the three segments of the downtown-West Shore route.

“The example that was given to me is that we may see bus from West Hills to Six Mile, rapid bus from Six Mile to Uptown and a street car or light rail line from Uptown to downtown, which I didn’t fully realize,” Murdock said. “I was operating under the assumption that it was going to be one technology for the entire corridor. That changes things quite dramatically.”

Council has not had an official vote on which option they support, but all those who spoke to the topic agreed that a rail-based solution in Saanich needs to be considered.

“There was concern that it was a bus plan,” Murdock said. “Transit reassured us that it’s still very much a part of the discussion and it will all go into the evaluation criteria when they select the technology.”

Murdock favours the rail-based rapid transit option for its long-term social, environmental and economic benefits.

“What the presentation showed to us is that the door is still open. We still have an opportunity to make that clear.”

B.C. Transit’s presentation to Saanich council was among the first of a series of presentations to municipal councils across the region.