The Town of Ladysmith has put its support behind the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Transit Future Plan.
The plan, presented by BC Transit senior transit planner James Wadsworth at the Sept. 19 meeting of council, calls for a connection service north and south of the town as well as comprehensive coverage in town, including routes along Fourth and First Avenues. The plan also proposes a transit exchange. A recommendation to support the transit plan was approved at council on October 4.
“We’re showing council a neighbourhood service concept, the exact wording will be worked out in a detailed service plan if Ladysmith becomes part of the CVRD transit system,” Wadsworth said. “It’s about a vision and getting everyone to agree on a vision and from it we identify a number of priorities for service improvements and infrastructure needed to make the plan happen, and then over the next 25 years, we start implementing those.”
Ladysmith is one of the largest communities in the province that doesn’t currently have BC Transit service.
BC Transit operates with 40 per cent funded by the provincial government, 40 per cent through property taxes and the remaining 20 per cent in user fees. The CVRD runs on a similar model and expands its services based on funding from the provincial government.
“Since 2002, we’ve been knocking on the door of BC Transit to have an opportunity but the funding hasn’t been available yet,” explained Mayor Rob Hutchins.
When there is an expansion of transit funds coming to the CVRD pool, then it would allow them to provide hours for the Town of Ladysmith, Hutchins said, but added that could be a few years off yet.
“Planning is a key step towards introduction and I personally look forward to the day that we can enter into that partnership,” Hutchins said.
Coun. Duck Paterson said he is glad to see the CVRD incorporating Ladysmith into a future plan. “The burning question is when, and the second one is how much,” he said.
Paterson said his concern is the potential impact on local businesses if the opportunities to leave Ladysmith are not matched by opportunities to come visit.
“Yes, it’s nice that people have the opportunity to go south to doctors and the theatre and the big box stores down there. I’m hoping that they’ll do it in such a cycle that [transit] won’t be coming to Ladysmith late in the day, to give people the chance to spend the day in Ladysmith,” Paterson said.
“The impact on the business community, we need to be aware of it.”