Let’s send Falcon a rail business case

BC Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon says he wants to talk to Mayors and communities about commuter rail on the E&N, light rail, or an overpass at McKenzie Avenue and the Trans-Canada Highway.

It’s easy to dismiss this as political opportunism or pandering. Falcon had five years as Transportation Minister to do something about the Colwood Crawl and congestion on Highway 1, but failed to deliver. Now the leadership is at stake, he’s all ears.

But let’s recognize the opportunity that Falcon’s gesture presents to the Capital Region. A member of the governing party has opened the door to a major transportation investment. That’s money to fix our growing congestion challenges. Political rhetoric or not, it’s well worth answering the call.

BC Transit is steadily moving forward with a Rapid Transit Plan for the Douglas-Island Highway corridor. The Plan is for a light rail or rapid bus system, or a mix of the two. Saanich, Victoria, and View Royal Councils have all endorsed a rail-based approach.

A rail-based system offers environmental, social, and economic benefits for our region. It will cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase transit ridership, improve transit travel times, stimulate economic growth, and cut sprawl. It’s exactly the kind of plan a would-be Premier is looking for.

Let’s not miss our chance to fix the Crawl and boost our region’s environment and economy at the same time. We can, and should, pull together to fast track a business case for a rail system, including costs and benefits. Let’s get it into the hands of all the leadership candidates for both political parties. It might just make it to the top of the pile this time. It’s worth a try.