After View Royal objects to handyDART facility, province offers benefits

B.C. Transit will work closely with View Royal to address residents’ concerns about a proposed new handyDART facility in the municipality, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says.

She sent a letter to View Royal Mayor David Screech last month indicating a willingness to co-operate with the municipality.

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In the correspondence, Trevena said B.C. Transit will do extensive consultations prior to the project and will abide by all provincial and municipal rules for streamside protection and enhancement areas.

She added that there are no plans to build a “mega-facility” on the 3.8-hectare site at 2401 Burnside Rd. West, and that handyDART wil occupy just a third of the site.

Trevena said other potential benefits for View Royal are under consideration, including payments to the town and phasing out diesel handyDART buses in time for the facility’s opening in 2023.

View Royal council rejected the facility last year amid opposition from residents concerned about air pollution, noise, traffic and potential environment impacts on Craigflower Creek, which runs alongside the property at Watkiss Way and Burnside Rd. West.

Trevena, however, notified Mayor David Screech in June that government intended to override council and proceed with the project by designating the property as arterial highway — a move that bypasses the town’s zoning process.

View Royal objected, so Trevena said she directed staff to investigate a different approach that involves vesting the fee simple title in the land to the B.C. Transportation Authority.

She said that approach still bypasses zoning processes, but allows more opportunity to address View Royal’s concerns.

“We feel that is a good way forward,” she said.

Screech acknowledged Thursday that the second approach would be more conciliatory because View Royal would still have some control over the land.

“It does mean that a lot of our regulations and bylaws would still apply to the property,” he said. “So it is a major sticking point and they need to put in writing that that’s definitely the way that they’re going ahead.”

Screech said council will still require assurances that other issues are being addressed.

Council directed him to send Trevena a list of demands that must be met before the project can proceed.

Screech said the town has no legal power to block the project, but wants to send a clear signal that it expects to be part of negotiations on how everybody’s interests can be met.

Trevena stated in her Aug. 1 letter to Screech that it’s “imperative” the new handyDART facility is up and running by 2023.

“Without this facility, transit service within the Victoria Regional Transit System (conventional or handyDART) cannot expand, as existing facilities will have reached capacity,” she said.

Once the new facility is open, handyDART will move from its current location on Glanford, freeing up space for a growing conventional fleet.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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