View Royal fights back against B.C.’s plans for handyDART facility

View Royal is pushing back at the provincial government’s plans to build a new handyDART bus facility in the municipality over the objections of local residents.

Councillors agreed Tuesday to reject the facility and present the Ministry of Transportation with a list of demands that have to be met before the project can proceed at 2401 Burnside Rd. West.

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“We realize at the end of the day that our hands are likely tied, but we think that if the province is going to force it through that they need to meet these requirements and expectations,” Mayor David Screech said in an interview Wednesday.

He expects to write the ministry a letter in the next few days, laying out the issues that council wants to see addressed.

The list includes concerns about noise, air quality, traffic, on-site parking, environmental impacts on Craigflower Creek which flows beside the 3.8-hectare property at Watkiss Way and Burnside Road West.

The town is also seeking transit improvements and membership on the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.

“We certainly don’t have the legal power to reject [the facility],” Screech said. “But I would like to think that the province at least would like to see us not being as strong as actually rejecting it. So I’m hoping we’re sending a strong signal that what we expect is some negotiations and some discussions about how we can make sure everybody’s interests are met.”

Council rejected the facility last year due to similar concerns. But Transportation Minister Claire Trevena notified 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 processes.

Trevena said in a statement to the Times Colonist last week that the province has owned the property since the 1990s, and that the new facility is essential to allow B.C. Transit to increase its fleet and meet the rising demand for transit services in Greater Victoria.

“Once the facility is built, the existing handyDART facility on Glanford Avenue will be relocated to the View Royal location, and the Glanford facility will be expanded to become another transit centre for its conventional fleet — with the other two facilities being in Langford and Victoria,” Trevena said.

“B.C. Transit facilities within Greater Victoria are at capacity. If we do nothing, there will be a direct impact on people who live and work in Greater Victoria who rely on public transit because Transit won’t be able to implement its planned expansion.”

B.C. Transit has indicated that it plans to release more details of the project in the coming weeks.

The property is home to the Victoria Bowmen Archery Club whose 200 members use its target archery range daily.

Al Wills, who sits on the executive, said the club occupies less than half a hectare on the property, but its range is located where B.C. Transit intends to put its buildings.

“We’ve spent somewhere between $30,000 and $50,000 to get the site where it is today, which included trucking in 200 loads of fill and things like that,” he said.

“We always had a dream that because there’s so many encumbrances that we were really the only thing that could stay there in a park-like setting.”

Wills said he still believes the property should remain as an archery range. “But, you know, how do you say anything against something like transit?”

lkines@timescolonist.com

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