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Improving Urban Transportation in B.C.: Transportation Authorities

Easy access to multi-modal transportation options and well-maintained infrastructure is critical to strong economies and healthy communities. Being able to freely move between municipalities is not only vital to the commerce, but in accessing health, recreation, and social supports. As urban centres grow and municipalities increasingly become inter-dependent, the importance of regional transportation networks increases. As the second largest population centre in B.C., home to the provincial capital, host to key sectors that contribute to B.C.’s economy, Greater Victoria urgently needs a solution now, one that paves the way for other B.C. regions who will soon face similar challenges.

Background

In B.C. growing and developing urban cores, travel times are already increasing during peak periods with commuters crowding the existing infrastructure. Economic growth and quality of life are reliant upon considerable improvements to the infrastructure and travel options to efficiently move people and goods in, out, and within urban cores. Fast, easy, reliable and affordable transportation modes support healthy communities and strong and resilient economies.

In these regions without a transportation authority, regional transportation planning does not happen. For example, the 13 municipalities in Greater Victoria are each responsible for transportation within their boundaries, while the Capital Regional District is responsible for transportation in unincorporated areas. Layered on top, is the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure that is responsible for highways and related infrastructure - some of which runs through and between municipal areas and regional districts. Adding even more complexity are provincial and federal funding envelopes with different eligibility criteria and an increasing focus on a low-carbon economy and alternative modes of transport.

These regions, such as the Capital Regional District, Regional District of Central Okanagan, North Okanagan Regional District, Regional District of Nanaimo, and Regional District of Fraser-Fort George, each need a transportation authority with regional planning responsibility encompassing current and future modes of transportation – by feet, bike, boat, bus, train, car and more. This entity needs the right governance, taxation power similar to the current BC Transit tripartite model, planning expertise, zoning authority, project management capacity, and operating mandate.

THE CHAMBER RECOMMENDS

That the provincial Government legislate additional regional transportation authorities as needed, starting in Greater Victoria, to enable increased efficiency in the coordination, planning, funding, and operation of a multi-modal transportation network.

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