With both Victoria and Saanich councils coming out so strongly in favour of LRT along Douglas, I think BC Transit will find itself hardpressed to reject rail. It is pretty clear that senior BC Transit staff figure that Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, is a better short-term bet, given the realities of provincial funding, but if they do decide on bus, they are going to have to explain themselves to hostile councils, wondering why their wishes were completely ignored.
Of course, the political calculus may change . There is a great deal of political instability at the provincial level, a minority government in Ottawa that may fall in the spring, and the upcoming Nov 2011 municipal election. So by the time that BC Transit goes cap-in-hand for funding, they may be talking to three completely different governments. May we live in interesting times indeed.
If you want to take a look at how all the various options might look, BC Transit has a very nice set of Victoria Regional Rapid Transit artist's renderings
Oak Bay isn’t going to get a pesticide in 2010 after all. After some testy debate, Council decided Monday night to table the bylaw, which bans cosmetic pesticide use by the public, after Councillor Ney raised a pair of questions about exempting the municipality and who gets to issue pesticide use permits.
The questions began with Ney wondering why why municipality was exempting itself from the bylaw, choosing to stick with a pesticide-reduction scheme called “integrated pest management”. She noted that Parks & Rec maintains many of the playing fields in the municipality and that reducing children’s exposure to harmful chemicals is one of the stated reasons for enacting the ban. This received a slightly annoyed response from Councillor Braithwaite, who sits on the Parks & Rec Commission, saying that Ney had been invited to the commission meetings where the bylaw was discussed and she “was sorry that you weren’t able to attend.”
Ney also wondered why the approving officer was the Manager of Parks & Rec, not council itself, as is common with other municipalities (and the draft CRD bylaw which Oak Bay’s is modelled on.) This may have been an effort to take items off council’s plate — a recent example would be the changing of the boulevard planting process that allows staff to process them — but may be premature, given that the boulevard planting process was generating quite a bit of work and, according to Ney, Esquimalt has received zero requests since enacting their bylaw.
The objection that wasn’t raised last night, but has been brought up before, is the inclusion of the loophole that allows pesticide application where a pest infestation “will cause significant economic loss”. This lovely little inclusion comes to Oak Bay via Saanich, which included it in their bylaw due to their mixed urban/rural setting, something that Oak Bay does not have (Oak Bay’s one farm is in the Uplands and is basically a tax dodge).
Creating giant loopholes in the pesticide bylaw isn’t just an Oak Bay or Saanich problem. The Canadian Cancer Society, which is working aggressively to get bans enacted, strongly criticized the City of Victoria’s bylaw in 2007 for not keeping the requirement to publicly post notices when pesticides are used and for exempting the municipality.
So into 2011 the bylaw gets pushed, but don’t expect any bylaw passed at that meeting to be final. Oak Bay Council has been tinkering with the Tree Protection Bylaw for quite some time now (almost a half dozen revisions in four years) and this bylaw is likely to be the same.
Eager to see how their transportation demand management plan was actually working, Camosun recently embarked on a first-ever mode share count at both their campuses. Given that Oak Bay plays host to their Landsdowne Campus parking lots (Saanich gets the interesting bits like the buildings), I thought Iwould highlight a few preliminary results here. (It has nothing to do with the fact that I stood for several hours in the cold working on the count). Take a look:
for comparative reference, UVic’s 2008 modeshare:
The 2010 count data, which I was also involved in, isn’t available yet, so I had to use the 2008, from UVic Sustainability’s page. Both use the same method, with a few differences:
- UVic counts from 6am-9am and from 2pm-6pm, Camosun from 7am-9am and 3pm-5pm
- UVic uses BC Transit data for bus ridership exlusively, Camosun counted pedestrians and bus riders together and will separate out transit ridership with transit data later. How accurate this is, I don’t know as unlike boardings, disembarking passengers are not accurately counted due to the technology involved.
The data shows that Camosun has some work to do to catch up with UVic’s numbers, although given the suburban nature of Interurban, they are surprisingly close. One key barrier to greater cycling and walking was distance (in the 2009 Tod Litman-written Transportation and Parking Management Plan (364) (PDF, pg 19-20) in 2009. And this is only going to get worse when the various nursing and other health care programs move out to Interurban at some point in the near future. Nice to see the hard numbers though. Makes it easier to sell pedestrian, cycling, and transit improvements to possibly skeptical councils.
With a great deal afoot with cycling in the Greater Victoria area — the CRD Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan, recent works in Oak Bay and the future bicycle plan, etc.
Vivian Moreau of the Oak Bay News came to the recent Active Transportation forum, focusing her article on the Spokesmen, a group of Oak Bay cyclists who ride together each Saturday morning, and their spokesperson (sorry) Stuart Culbertson noted what many cyclists in Oak Bay know: home is where the bike lanes stop (although that will be slightly less true in the new year).
In the good news department is the recent referendum victory for a new Johnson St. Bridge, which promises to elminate a major bottleneck at the end of Galloping Goose & Lochside Trails. Hopefully the CRD will get gas tax money to save the rail link, as well. (The Times Colonist covered Victoria Mayor Fortin talking about possible funding sources today)
The Victoria News actually does a pretty decent piece of work with their article on the bridge and cycling in Victoria, even mentioning the problem with vehicular cyclists’ crazy belief in stopping all bike lanes and other similar works.This group often muddies the waters, writing letters to councils who don’t know which group of cyclists to believe.
And for the last little bit of amusement, question 7 on this faux questionnaire:
Q7. When people discover that you work for the City of Vancouver they complain to you first about:
a) Bike lanes.
b) Backyard chicken coops and bike lanes.
c) The former Olympic Village and bike lanes.
d) Property-tax rates and bike lanes.
Ah, municipal politics, isn’t it fun?