Tag Archives: planning

Accelerating planning in the Douglas corridor

Saanich teams with Victoria on gas tax funding application
By Kyle Slavin – Saanich News

Saanich and Victoria councils are hoping for a $1 million grant to help them plan for a new-and-improved Douglas Street corridor.

Saanich council last week unanimously supported a joint application with the City of Victoria seeking federal gas tax money from the Union of B.C. Municipalities to conduct “community planning work” on Douglas.

“The outcome for citizens is the two municipalities are working together on a project that would be seamless on land-use and transportation, and that’s obviously a good thing,” Mayor Frank Leonard said.

There is $3.8 million up for grabs through the gas tax fund, but there are no guarantees the joint application will receive a cent.

“This planning grant is what I call the jump ball file. Lots of people put in for proposals, and hopefully the best ones get the funding,” Leonard said.

He’s optimistic and hopeful the Douglas corridor project will prove regionally significant enough to attract the funding.

If it doesn’t, however, a planning process will still have to happen, albeit a scaled-down version.

“At the end of the day, the outcomes need to be the same. The planning objectives need to remain steadfast,” said Coun. Dean Murdock. “(With or without the grant), we need to plan for that corridor and look for the opportunities for environmental, social and economic benefits.”

Murdock says the challenge in issuing a joint application is that needs-wise, Saanich and Victoria are very different places when it comes to Douglas Street.

By determining the similarities and differences in terms of what each municipality is looking to get out of a comprehensive planning process, that will help shape what the process itself looks like, Murdock said.

Saanich planner Sharon Hvozdanski couldn’t say how much Saanich has already set aside to spend on the study if the grant application is unsuccessful.

“We have some money set aside for this study. Obviously given the importance of the corridor and the neighbourhoods, we would significantly benefit from additional funds to do more,” she said.

Applications were due on May 31. There is no word on when the UBCM will announce the grant recipients.

Victoria council supported the joint application at its May 24 meeting.

Saanich neighbourhoods need better transit service

Rapid transit on Douglas is great but other Saanich neighbourhoods need better service, council says
Kyle Slavin, Saanich News

Douglas Street will be the future home of rapid transit now that both Saanich and Victoria councils have thrown their support behind the route.

However, Saanich needs to be more critical of B.C. Transit’s 25-year plan because such a geographically narrow focus could leave many of the municipality’s residents without quality service, Mayor Frank Leonard said Monday night.

“We need not be shy about (population centres) in our municipality that are not getting serviced now,” he said. “There are 25,000 people in Cedar Hill not getting adequate service.”

Coun. Dean Murdock agreed with Leonard’s notion that it doesn’t serve Saanich to concentrate on bringing rapid transit to Langford – expected to be heavily residential in 25 years – if that means neglecting Saanich’s already heavily-residential neighbourhoods.

“We’re looking at making a major infrastructure investment that goes out to the (Langford) that has projected growth in significant numbers but pales in comparison to pockets of the Saanich community,” Murdock said. “There are areas just within Saanich that are chronically underserved by public transit and have a population base significantly larger than even the projected growth for portions of that projected rapid transit corridor.”

The concerns arose during a presentation by transit planners on Monday. B.C. Transit was seeking council’s approval to make the Douglas Street corridor the location for rapid transit.

How it will look still remains up in the air. Rapid bus service or light rail, as well as lane alignment and location of bike lanes are among the many questions left to be answered.

“It’s pretty critical that we get things right. We’re not going to get a second chance at this, that’s for sure,” said Coun. Vic Derman, acknowledging his appreciation that B.C. Transit asked for approval from council and the public before moving ahead.

Transit planner Emily Flett told council open houses will be held in 2011 to examine the different technologies and their benefits as well as costs associated with the different options.

“We need longer term views. This is about making an investment that’s going to last us into the long-term,” he said, citing greenhouse gas emissions and attractiveness to riders as major factors in that decision.

He suggested that Saanich and Victoria councils – as they share jurisdictional boundaries along Douglas street – hold a joint meeting to discuss the long-term plan.

“As we are preparing to see significant redevelopment in both these communities, we must ensure we’re doing that in harmony and promoting the shared vision for that corridor,” Murdock said.