The Regional District of Nanaimo is taking the lead on the idea of creating a transportation plan encompassing all of Vancouver Island.
A collective of local governments has responded to a Regional District of Nanaimo request that could lead to development of an Island-wide transportation plan.
The RDN wrote the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities in early February, seeking formation of a committee that would work with B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation to develop a Vancouver Island transportation master plan. AVICC subsequently passed a motion directing its staff to work with the RDN to draft terms of reference and a framework for a committee to work with the ministry to prepare the plan.
The RDN and AVICC have not yet set up any meetings, but Tyler Brown, RDN director and transit select committee chairperson, said the terms of reference need to articulate thoughtful outcomes and ensure that however the process progresses, it’s collaborative and includes all stakeholders, including First Nations.
Brown said there is a gap in inter-regional and inter-community transportation.
“You know just how impossible it is to catch a bus from Ladysmith to Nanaimo, or north or south; it’s a lot of great difficulty,” said Brown. “It’s a lot of patchwork, so from a public transit perspective, it’s time to get that patchwork into a cohesive network.”
Other considerations, he said, include the rail corridor, movement of goods and generally building resilient, “strong networks” optimized to support the Vancouver Island economy.
AVICC includes numerous governments across the Island and Brown said there have been expressions of interest for a master transportation plan. He said regional chairs met with B.C. Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena last year to discuss the subject.
“I just know in my conversations, as well, with neighbouring jurisdictions, that there’s a strong desire to see strong linkages between our communities, so people can move via public transit from one community to another,” Brown said.
The scope of the plan, when it is completed, would include more than just busing, according to Brown.
“There are other opportunities as well around optimizing our transportation networks for the movement of goods beyond just people … there’s a lot of movement of goods to the Island, [on] the Island, there’s always opportunity to look at that as well,” Brown said. “So, I think the public transit is a huge key component of that and that’s
The AVICC letter is included as correspondence in the RDN’s May 12 committee of the whole meeting agenda and it could be a topic that directors discuss.
“This is an item that we’ve endorsed and sent to AVICC before,” said Brown. “We’ve had discussions on it, so I imagine what will come from that is conversation and if any motions are necessary to move this along, I would expect someone will make such a motion.”