BC Transit is hoping its new handyDART centre will tackle both environmental and service capacity challenges.
To be located at the corner of Burnside Road West and Watkiss Way in View Royal, the new facility will replace the existing centre on Glanford Avenue in Saanich which is far overcapacity, according to Levi Timmermans, director of infrastructure management at BC Transit.
“We have buses parked in driver’s driveways. We’ve rented the parking lot across the street, we have two maintenance bays. So we’ve done everything we can with the existing site, but we can’t expand the service,” he said.
The new site is forecast for completion in late 2024 and will have far more space for handyDART buses, allowing for over 100 vehicles from the current centre’s capacity of around 50. After the View Royal site’s completion, the Saanich yard will be used for regular BC Transit buses, with a capacity of 75 to 80 buses. A project to increase capacity there is in the early planning stages, Timmermans said.
“That’ll allow us to then go to the next phase for the region and say, ‘We’re good, we can grow transit for many, many years to come.’ That location is really strategically located for transit, it’s nice and central to the city.”
Construction of the new centre also seeks to address environmental challenges in the area. A stream connecting to Craigflower Creek, which runs through the property, is being realigned to run behind the handyDART centre.
“When we took over the site, the creek area on the property was, I would say, subpar,” Timmermans said.
On Thursday (May 19), around 130 students from nearby Eagleview Elementary helped plant nearly 500 riparian plants of varying species along the banks of the creek. In total, 8,000 plants are set to be planted at and around the handyDART centre. Timmermans said the new path for the creek would slow down the flow of the water, potentially allowing for the return of salmon.
The transit organization consulted with local Indigenous nations about how to improve the creek. The adjacent Galloping Goose Regional Trail is also being altered to lessen the slope coming up to the transit centre and will potentially be reopened next month.