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McKenzie overpass seen as top priority

West Shore connections key to growth

A new overpass for the McKenzie Avenue interchange and improved connections between the West Shore and Victoria top a wish list issued by the Greater Victoria Development Agency.

The list of 13 projects was developed through an outreach and evaluation process that included input from the Capital Regional District, the region's municipalities, First Nations and the region's chambers of commerce. It was established to bring awareness to issues that have a strong impact on the local economy, according to a GVDA release.

"The GVDA accepts project submissions on an ongoing basis and we strongly encourage the public to bring potential projects to our attention," said Dallas Gislason, the GVDA's economic development officer. "We analyze submissions for their regional scope, contribution to competitiveness, economic impact, timeframe of implementation and community support before endorsing them."

The list also includes:

- Victoria harbour transportation gateway optimization (including the Belleville Street Terminal);

- Runway extension at Victoria International Airport;

marine highway; ? B.C.

- Marine production centre, graving docks;

- Legislative precinct improvements;

- UVic centre for athletics, recreation and special abilities;

- Camosun College centre of excellence for marine, metal and mechanical trades;

- Pacific Institute for Sports Excellence, second phase;

- Amphitheatre/downtown event site;

- Visitor centre on the Saanich Peninsula;

- Cycling infrastructure.

According to the GVDA, the list highlights regional transportation infrastructure, local job creation and retention, and Victoria's lifestyle and talent attraction infrastructure as key areas in need of development.

A McKenzie interchange, to improve traffic flow where the avenue meets the Trans Canada Highway, would have the largest impact on the efficient flow of people and goods and services, according to the GVDA.

The organization believes improving that intersection will reduce the "Colwood Crawl" and lead to healthier lifestyles, and stronger families.

As the population in the West Shore grows, moving people and the region's workforce efficiently becomes more important. It would also more efficiently connect the Swartz Bay ferry terminal and Victoria airport with the West Shore and allow tourists to reach destinations with less frustration.

As for connecting the West Shore to Victoria and Saanich, the agency suggests investing in the Douglas Street rapid transit corridor and to pursue the feasibility of a light-rail transit system.