Support for Rail-based Rapid Transit

The BC Transit rapid transit plan offers huge opportunities for economic development,
environmental sustainability, and social benefits for Saanich and the Capital Region. Saanich
Council has a limited opportunity to convey its support for a rapid transit solution that will
ensure that our community capitalizes on the full range of available economic, environmental,
and social benefits of a rapid transit system.

Economic Benefits
The Douglas Street – Island Highway corridor is a major transportation thoroughfare with
immense potential for commercial and residential redevelopment. A rail-based rapid transit
system creates an opportunity to drive economic activity along the corridor that will allow
Saanich to achieve the vision of a major “hub” centre at Uptown with co-location of commercial
and residential development in close proximity to rapid transit.

A rail-based system is a permanent commitment to quality transit that provides a basis for
development decisions. Unlike a bus system that can be shifted out of a particular corridor, a rail
system creates a framework for the rational development and siting decisions that instills
confidence in development planning and economic investments. Saanich and the Capital Region
cannot miss an opportunity to inspire confidence in the redevelopment of this important corridor.

Environmental Benefits
A rail-based transit system offers environmental benefits that cannot be attained with a bus
system. Rail technology is an electric-powered system that dramatically reduces greenhouse gas
emissions.

A rail-based system also draws a considerably larger ridership than bus-based technology.
Experiences across North America and Europe indicate a dramatic increase in ridership among
communities that introduced a rail-based system (e.g., Salt Lake City achieved its 10-year
ridership projections on the first day of its service; in its second year of service, the Canada Line
in Vancouver surpassed its five-year ridership projections). By shifting commuters away from
the single-occupant vehicle into a quality, reliable rail-based service, Saanich and the Capital
Region can achieve a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and attain the goal of a
one-third reduction in emission levels by 2020.

Social Benefits
A rail-based rapid transit system provides commuters with a quality, reliable, and efficient
alternative to the single-occupant vehicle. The ability to move commuters more quickly between
their origin and destination allows them to spend more time with their families and less time in a
congested right-of-way.

Limited Opportunity
BC Transit’s own survey results indicate an overwhelming preference for rail-based technology.
During Saanich’s Official Community Plan and Climate Action Plan consultation processes,
residents repeatedly expressed a preference for rail-based technology. As BC Transit quickly
moves toward a recommendation on selecting a technology for the rapid transit plan, Saanich
Council has an opportunity to endorse, on behalf of its residents, rail-based transit as the
preferred technology for the rapid transit plan.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Saanich Council convey its support for rail-based transit
as the preferred technology or modal choice for the Douglas Street – Island Highway rapid transit
project between downtown and the West Shore to BC Transit, the Victoria Regional Transit
Commission, the CRD Board, and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as
Members of the Legislature and Members of Parliament representing Saanich.

DEAN MURDOCK
SAANICH COUNCILLOR