Victorians for Transportation Choice letter to CRD re climate emergency

Dear members of the Capital Regional District Transportation Committee

April 23, 2019

Re April 24 agenda Item 5.1 – Motion with Notice: Transportation Improvements on Highway 1 and Highway 14 Corridors

Victorians for Transportation Choice (VTC) is very concerned about the direction of the Southern Vancouver Island Transportation Strategy (SVITS) and related provincial government plans to spend many millions of dollars on road and highway projects in our region. We urge you to support this motion and provide a strong regional voice.

The strategy, announced on January 9th and further detailed on January 17th emphasizes addressing traffic congestion and the building of road infrastructure projects. It also proposes an immediate process to build an “emergency detour” alternative route to the Malahat highway. The SVITS announcements made no mention of BC’s CleanBC climate action plan or BC’s legislated GHG reduction targets.

The purpose of the CRD Transportation Committee includes providing “a strong regional voice on regional transportation matters including ferries, rail and transit”. We urge you to consider the following in considering how to exercise that strong regional voice.

  • Recently, the Capital Regional District (CRD) board voted unanimously to declare a Climate Emergency, and to rapidly reduce carbon pollution in the region over the next eleven years.
  • The CRD’s Regional Transportation Plan calls for bold actions to increase transit ridership and reduce greenhouse gas pollution. These actions include creating transit lanes so transit riders are not stuck in traffic on main routes. The Plan also asserts that the CRD Board is the body that should lead regional transportation priority setting.[1]
  • The BC Transit Victoria Transit Future Plan states: “Major investments in expanding the road network to accommodate the private automobile do not align with local, regional and provincial planning aspirations.”
  • The Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities recently passed a resolution “that local governments call on the Governments of Canada and British Columbia to fully implement their commitment in the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, to shift investments ‘from higher to lower-emitting types of transportation’”.
  • The Victoria Transit Commission has made continuous bus lanes on the Douglas – Highway 1 corridor to the West Shore their top infrastructure priority, but the provincial government is delaying action on the section from the western end of the McKenzie Interchange project and the Burnside Road / Island Highway Interchange.

VTC wants our communities to shift to more transit, walking and biking, as a means to meet transportation needs, improve liveability and rapidly reduce our carbon footprint.

A back door route to the Malahat highway is far out of touch with BC’s own GHG reduction targets and climate action objectives. It would also spoil wilderness values of the Sooke Hills Wilderness Regional Park. Similarly, proposals to re-route and widen Sooke Road and to widen Highway 1 to four lanes between Leigh Road and West Shore Parkway are not compatible with climate emergency action. We must create a future with much less, not more, travel by private automobile.

A recent Victoria Transport Policy Institute report found that “frequent and affordable bus service with Transportation Demand Management (TDM) incentives is the most cost effective and beneficial option. . .buses can carry many passengers through a single lane during a partial closure.[And] regardless of whether or not a rail network is planned, frequent bus service is needed”[2]

We believe that a key focus of the SVITS should be making travel by public transit more reliable. For example, an upgraded Brentwood – Mill Bay ferry could carry many people arriving by bus on the occasions when the Malahat is closed.

Please support the motion “Transportation Improvements on Highway 1 and Highway 14 Corridors”, and provide a strong ongoing voice for prioritizing transit, walking and cycling over infrastructure designed to increase travel by private automobiles. We are in a climate emergency, and need a strong regional voice for climate action in the transportation sector.

Victorian’s for Transportation Choice’s member groups are: Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition; Greater Victoria Placemaking Network; British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association, Victoria Chapter; Walk On, Victoria; Island Transformations Organization and Better Transit Alliance of Greater Victoria.


[2] Todd Litman (16 April, 2019) Rethinking Malahat Solutions: Or, Why Spend A Billion Dollars If A Five-Million Dollar Solution Is Better Overall? Pp 1, 13, 16