Tag Archives: mobility

Seeking interim improvements to get commuters moving

Saanich Council supports report on Douglas Corridor traffic improvements
CFAX 1070 March 26, 2012

A report authored by engineering staff on traffic improvements proposed for the Douglas Corridor received unanimous support from Saanich Council Monday night.

Saanich Councillor Dean Murdock says council wants to ensure that this issue is a priority.

“I hear from commuters that travel along Douglas and all our major corridors, that we can’t wait for a rapid transit system to begin addressing traffic, we have to start implementing changes now, to get people moving”

Murdock explains what potential changes to the corridor are being considered.

“so that could possibly include HOV lanes or bus priority lanes, particularly during peak hours, cue jumper lanes that allow the buses to move past traffic at intersections, and signal coordination, all along Douglas, so that buses can move seamlessly from one end of the corridor through to the other without getting stuck in line-ups”

Murdock says they would ensure that any changes would compliment a rapid transit line in the future.

Traffic improvements in the Douglas Corridor are being planned for in conjunction with BC Transit and the City of Victoria.

Sidewalk, bike lanes, and trail spending

Saanich budget discussions focus on engineering-related spending Tuesday
CFAX 1070 March 6, 2012

Saanich continued budget discussions Tuesday night, with a focus on engineering-related spending.

Saanich Councillor Dean Murdock says the replacement of the Craigflower Bridge was one item discussed.

“that’s a project that will get underway this year, it’s valued at about 10.8 million dollars, and that’s almost entirely covered by gas tax revenue that was given to Saanich and View Royal for the replacement of the Craigflower Bridge”

Murdock says 3.5 million is being looked at for road improvements, 1 million for sidewalk upgrades and installations and 1 million for bike lanes on roadways and trails.

Murdock says the police budget was discussed Monday night. He says at 28 million dollars the police budget represents just over 12% of their annual municipal budget.

He says budget discussions will continue until the end of April with final approval of the financial plan by-law in May.

Victoria and Saanich Councils support interim fixes to speed up transit trips

Councils debate state of bus service in Saanich and Victoria
CFAX 1070 February 29 2012

B-C Transit provided an update on its planning for a light rail rapid transit line to a special joint meeting of Saanich and Victoria Councils…but most of the politicians seemed more interested in what can be done to improve bus movements right now.

Victoria Councillor Pam Madoff was the only one who actually used the word “disappointed” in how little has changed since the last Council update on rapid transit. The current time frame suggests there might be a line built in four to six years…some Councillors, such as Saanich’s Leif Wergeland, fear it’s more likely 10 or 20 years, and he wondered what plan “B” is in the meantime.

Dean Murdock agreed that some interim measures need to be taken…

“…begin planning for some of those interim steps that are going to free up the congestion in some of those corridors, while we continue to plan , uh, towards a bigger plan for, ah, rapid transit. I’ll be discussing that with some of the, some of my fellow councillors to see what we can bring forward in the very near future to get that started”

Interim measures could include extending a transit traffic signal exchange program, currently under development on Douglas Street, to other important bus routes; and more and longer cue-jumper lanes for busses.

Happy to support Denise Savoie’s Green Commuter Choices bill

‘Green commuting’ bill finds second wind
By Jeff Bell, Times Colonist February 11, 2012

With buses passing behind her and cyclists in attendance, Victoria MP Denise Savoie had the ideal setting Friday to announce that her 2009 private member’s bill on “green” commuter choices will be re-introduced in Parliament.

Since she is Deputy Speaker, Savoie cannot bring the Commuter Tax Incentive Bill back herself, so fellow NDP MP Jamie Nicholls, who represents Vaudreuil-Soulanges in Quebec, is taking on the task.

Nicholls, who was on hand for the announcement, is the NDP’s deputy critic for transport and infrastructure, as well as a University of Victoria alumnus.

Savoie and her supporters gathered at the busy corner of Fort and Douglas streets to talk about the re-emerging bill.

“It was an important piece of legislation in the sense that it got support right across Canada from mayors and councils,” she said.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association also favoured the bill when it was introduced.

“What this bill does is it allows employers to provide commuter-related benefits to their employees for either their transit or cycling or carpooling,” Savoie said.

The bill would also help build capacity for transit operations across the country by allowing for longer-term planning, she said. That is an important facet of the bill, Savoie said, pointing to figures that indicate 23,000 people were passed by because of full buses in the capital region last September and October.

Transit workers were represented by Ben Williams, president of Local 333 of the Canadian Auto Workers, who said the number of passengers being left behind shows that changes are needed.

“The system is basically beyond its capacity,” he said.

Nicholls – who did all his travelling by bicycle and bus when he was at UVic – said the bill can help with congestion issues, such as the Colwood Crawl, by promoting different choices for commuters.

Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock said traffic congestion is a big concern for local governments.

“A move like this bill encourages employers to reach out with transportation alternatives, encouraging the thousands of employees who are commuting to and from the workplace every day to invest in an alternative or use a benefit provided by the employer – freeing up capacity on the road.”

Few private member’s bills end up being adopted.

Saanich News: Light rail

We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on light-rail transit along the Douglas Street corridor.

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

The proposed light rail plan was unanimously supported by Mayor and Council because of its economic, social, and environmental benefits. I support the plan and want to see an evaluation of its design, cost, and benefits. I’m confident that we can achieve the benefits of the proposed LRT at a lower cost to taxpayers. We’ve got traffic in every direction and need to try something new on Douglas and our major corridors. LRT should be part of an upgraded public transit network that attracts more riders by getting people to where they need to go more quickly and efficiently.

Saanich News: Traffic

We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on the transportation issues in Saanich (outside of the light rail discussion).

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

Traffic is a concern for most of the residents I talk to on the doorstep. We can reduce congestion with improved public transit service that has dedicated transit lanes to speed-up travel times on major corridors during peak hours. We should work with educational institutions and major employers to promote transit pass programmes to build ridership. We need to focus on pedestrian and cyclist safety. I propose a ten-year plan to fund and build new sidewalks and upgrade crumbling sidewalks all across Saanich. Let’s create proper bike lanes and invest in expanded connector trails between major centres.

Saanich News: Aging population

We asked the Saanich mayor and council candidates to provide their thoughts and strategies on Saanich’s aging demographics.

Dean Murdock, council candidate:

As our population ages, it’s important that our community has the infrastructure and services to allow older adults to “age in place”. That means making neighbourhoods and major routes more accessible and welcoming. Let’s upgrade our sidewalks, cross walks and bus stops so they can be used by people requiring mobility assistance and those with hearing or visual impairments. Our major centres and the commercial services within them need to be designed with older adults in mind. Our recreation centres and community programmes should reflect the needs of an aging population.

Saanich residents deserve neighbourhood sidewalks

For Immediate Release
November 1, 2011

Saanich residents deserve neighbourhood sidewalks: Murdock

Victoria – Saanich Councillor Dean Murdock thinks your neighbourhood needs a sidewalk.

Announcing his mobility plan today, Murdock said quality sidewalks and bike lanes are a priority for most of the Saanich residents he’s met on the doorstep.

“In almost every neighbourhood, in every part of Saanich, people tell me they are concerned about the safety of their kids and elderly parents,” said Murdock. “Walking in the gravel next to a busy road isn’t just intimidating, it’s dangerous. People deserve to feel safe when they’re walking in their own neighbourhoods.”

To address Saanich’s sidewalk deficit, he proposes a 10-year plan to re-invest in sidewalk restoration and installation in priority areas.

“There are a lot of crumbling sidewalks in Saanich, and even more gravel paths where a sidewalk belongs,” Murdock said. “We’ll work with community associations to identify priority improvement areas.”

“Investing in sidewalks and bike lanes is more than investing in concrete and asphalt,” Murdock added. “It’s an investment in a healthier community, climate protection, the environment, safety, and mobility.”

The plan will use development cost charges, provincial and federal infrastructure grants, and the municipal infrastructure improvement fund to upgrade sidewalks and bike lanes over 10 years.

The first-term Councillor is seeking re-election to Saanich Council and a seat on the CRD Board.

Municipal elections are November 19.

A 10-year Mobility Plan for Saanich

Investing in sidewalks and bike lanes is more than investing in concrete and asphalt. Pedestrian and cyclist rights of way allow commuters to travel without an automobile, cut our greenhouse gas emissions, and preserve the quality of our air.

Proper sidewalks allow seniors to safely access goods and services within the community on foot. Sidewalks ensure that our children can reach their schools safely. Sidewalks and bike lanes are an investment in a healthier community, climate protection, the environment, safety, and mobility. It is time for a reinvestment in pedestrians and cyclists by:

– Creating a 10-year sidewalk revitalization plan.

– Working with community associations to identify priority areas for sidewalk restoration or installation.

– Concurrently constructing sidewalks and bike lanes with road improvements.

– Dedicating larger portions of funding to sidewalks and bike lanes.

– Accessing grants from senior levels of government to improve pedestrian and cyclist corridors.

– Redesigning Development Cost Charges to create a municipal mobility fund to construct sidewalks and bike lanes across Saanich and not limited to areas within immediate proximity of new developments.

3-storey commercial building offers early preview of Shelbourne Valley transformation

Signature building to serve as catalyst for Shelbourne renewal
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

While staffers plan out the future of Shelbourne Valley – complete with dense centres and walkable villages – council OK’d what it hopes will be the “catalyst” for that change Monday night.

A small three-storey building – which will house a Vancity credit union, a medical practice and office space – will replace the single-floor dry cleaner and barbershop at the corner of Cedar Hill X Road and Stamboul Street.

Complete with renewed pedestrian walkways, geothermal heating, a green roof and a green wall, council lauded the applicant for collaborating with the community to put forward the best possible proposal.

“They don’t just have an open house and show residents this is what’s going in, they work together with the community to develop something that fits,” said Coun. Dean Murdock.

“This will stand out as the best community development in the area,” Coun. Susan Brice said. “I suspect it’ll be the catalyst to entice other property owners in the area to get moving.”

The building, which was sent to public hearing, includes a 95-per-cent parking variance. (Zoning requires 83 stalls, and only four are proposed.)

Located on the south side of Shelbourne Village Square, there already exists 107 stalls in the parking lot and traffic consultants determined peak parking demand for both the existing mall, which houses Tim Hortons, Macs and Bosley’s Pet Food Mart, and the new building would be 96 stalls. There is also space for roughly 55 cars to park on Kisber and Stamboul streets.

Councillors also commended the applicant’s transportation demand management plan, which includes widening area sidewalks, installing plenty of on-site bicycle storage, building a new bus stop on Shelbourne Street and offering an enticing bus pass program for Vancity employees.

Councillors Leif Wergeland and Judy Brownoff suggested making some design improvements so the non-green walls aren’t so “stark.”

“It’s interesting how these areas and corridors evolve,” noted Coun. Paul Gerrard, “but the one thing they have to have is a signature building. I think this’ll kickstart other buildings to equal it.”

An independent evaluation will prove LRT benefits

We know that other cities have seen incredible economic growth as a result of rail systems in their major corridors. We know that LRT can reduce emissions significantly and can do a lot to encourage new ridership — as much as double ridership — bringing more convenience and lower car-dependence to thousands of individuals and families.

Here in our region, we need an independent review of the proposed regional LRT system to give the public and decision-makers the information we need to evaluate these extraordinary benefits and the estimated costs to build and operate the system.

For me, there are four main components that need to be evaluated before we can proceed.

The first is finding potential cost savings. Let’s have an evaluation of the selection criteria to see what was required in choosing the technology. I’m confident that a line-by-line breakdown of the costs will reveal areas where money can be saved.

The second component is evaluating the economic spinoffs. We’ve seen rail systems in cities like Vancouver, Portland, Calgary, and Montréal, generate new economic development. LRT will certainly have a positive economic impact in our region. Let’s look at the potential for economic growth to understand what we can look forward to.

The third component is an assessment of the environmental benefits. An electric rail system is more energy-efficient than diesel buses. Let’s calculate what kind of emission reductions we will see by replacing dozens of diesel buses with electric rail and by attracting new riders away from their cars and onto LRT.

The final component is ridership projections. Estimates of thousands of new commuters and doubled ridership need to be proven. Salt Lake City achieved its 10-year ridership projections on the first day of its service and the Canada Line in Vancouver has already surpassed its five-year ridership projections. Let’s look at the projections for the proposed system to see how they compare and if they’re realistic.

An independent review will ensure that we maximize the potential benefits of LRT and minimize its potential costs. It will demonstrate the true value for taxpayers and the soundness of the investment for our region.

Dean Murdock
Saanich Councillor