Colwood mayor’s call to action: Fix the Crawl

A day after arguing against a regional transportation authority, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton is trying to pull power brokers into the same room to try to fix the Colwood Crawl. 

“Personally, I could care less if they wanted to take the Trans-Canada Highway and make it one lane of traffic and the other lane HOV [high-occupancy vehicle] and bus only,” Hamilton said.

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“If they took and put two people into every car that was out there, we would have the problem solved.”

On Thursday, she released a letter sent to Premier John Horgan and Transportation Minister Claire Trevena along with core-area and West Shore mayors calling on them to meet “to put into action the construction of express transit lanes on the Trans-Canada Highway and supporting municipal arterial roads.”

“Let’s take a common sense, proactive and collaborative approach to addressing our region’s most pressing transportation issue, without adding another unnecessary layer of governance,” Hamilton says in her letter.

After a lengthy debate Wednesday, Capital Regional District directors rejected an idea put forward by View Royal Mayor David Screech to use a counter-petition process to form a regional transportation authority if consensus couldn’t be reached by all 13 municipalities within six months. Instead, it will try to reach consensus on the new service.

If a counter-petition process were used, the service would be created — with funding and participation from all 13 municipalities — unless 10 per cent of eligible voters in the region signed a petition against it.

Hamilton believes a regional transportation service would add bureaucracy but would not address the problem, and said her letter is more of a call to action.

“You can’t just say it, you’ve got to do it. So it’s no good of me to point fingers at the other members saying ‘Where’s your leadership?’ if I’m not going to take it. So this [letter] is taking it and putting it out there.”

Screech called it “a remarkable coincidence” that Hamilton sent the letter the day after she made it clear that Colwood is not interested in a regional transportation service.

“I think that it’s admirable that she wants to look at that one specific problem, but I believe that she’s excluded other regional mayors and that we have a regional transportation issue,” Screech said.

“I think all the mayors should be at the table and we should be discussing with the province how do we deal with regional transportation issues as a whole, not single issues in isolation.”

Regardless, Screech said he would certainly participate.

And he’s not alone. Within an hour of sending the letter, Hamilton said she had already received positive responses from Victoria, Esquimalt and Highlands.

CRD chairwoman and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins applauded Hamilton’s initiative.

“I think this is one piece of the puzzle and I think the government is looking for what are the priorities and what are the solutions,” Desjardins said. “Having the mayors in the room will, I think, help to focus on initiatives that we might see as priorities.”

Hamilton said much of the planning for high-occupancy vehicle lanes has been done but the project has been put on the back burner while the new McKenzie interchange is being built. But given the congestion, the region can’t wait until 2019, when the interchange is scheduled to be completed, she said.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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