Nelson city council is optimistic that a provincial review panel for BC Transit will not effect local transit plans.
“I was initially concerned that the review might seriously slow us down,” said city councillor Donna Macdonald. “We have been making really good progress and we have some momentum going. I was worried this review at the provincial level may to bring us to a halt.”
Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom announced earlier this month that the panel would look at the governance of BC Transit.
He said the work of 40 BC Transit communities through the Union of B.C. Municipalities had an immediate effect.
Lekstrom emphasized that the review will look for efficiencies, and is not a prelude to adding more provincial money to increase service. The province covers 47 per cent of bus service costs for most communities served by BC Transit, with the rest coming from bus fares and local property taxes.
Lekstrom called that funding formula the most generous of any Canadian province, and said any service improvements would be up to municipalities who must decide on local tax levels.
The City of Nelson has been busy reviewing it’s own transit system and looking at how to incorporate our system into a regional model.
“We’ve been working with them constantly since we’ve started our review of our own system and I think that we’re making some real headway for a regional model for the delivery of transit,” said Mayor John Dooley.
Dooley said that the local work allowed the City to step back and look at the local system and realize that they “hadn’t been doing [their] homework.”
“Our transit system has been running the same way for over 30 years and I’m not sure if it reflected the kind of growth we had in the community, let alone the needs of the community,” he said. “I think we’ve come up with a much better system at the end of the day.”
Macdonald said that the planner the City has been working with through BC Transit is excited about the review and thinks it’s a good thing.
“I really do think we’ve got some good things going and I’d hate to see the brakes put on them. That being said, outcomes of provincial review are uncertain, we don’t know what is going to happen,” said Macdonald. “It could be that the outcome means suddenly there is less money or suddenly the local government share goes up from what it is now. We don’t really know.”
The public can find out more about the review and their own opportunities for input at the review website th.gov.bc.ca/BC_Transit_Review
— With files from Tom Fletcher