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COLUMN: Province improved the ways people get around this year

MLA Rob Fleming looks back at 2021
Premier John Horgan and Education Minister Rob Fleming read stories to kids at the James Bay Library in Victoria on July 3. (Greater Victoria Public Library photo)

By Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake

Over the past year, people in Victoria and across B.C. have demonstrated their resilience in the face of many challenges. Our government has been working hard to make life better while also keeping people safe.

As minister of transportation and infrastructure, I wanted to highlight a few ways we are improving the ways people get around this province.

To support the shift towards cleaner transportation and make life more affordable for families, this year we made public transit free for all children 12 and under across B.C.

In Vancouver, we started construction on the Broadway Subway, a six-station extension of the Millennium Line. This will reduce commute times and air pollution along one of North America’s busiest corridors. We announced a funding partnership with the federal government to build the new Surrey-Langley Skytrain extension— vitally important infrastructure to serve the needs of people in these rapidly growing areas.

We also announced a new eight-lane tunnel to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel. The new tunnel will include dedicated bus lanes and a separate tube for pedestrians and cyclists, giving people more options to for their commute. Further up the river, preliminary work began on the new toll-free Pattullo Bridge replacement connecting New Westminster and Surrey.

Closer to home on the South Island, improvements to Highway 14 from Woodhaven to Otter Point are now 85% complete. Design is progressing on a new flyover on Highway 17 to Keating Cross Road, to improve safety in the area. Keeping with our South Island Transportation Strategy (SITS), the CRD, BC Transit, and our Ministry finalized a new RapidBus Strategy, which will make it faster and easier for people in our region to get around on public transit.

The recent extreme weather and flooding had a devastating impact on many of our roads and highways around the province. But our road crews have been remarkable in the face of these challenges. More than 300 workers, using 200 pieces of equipment worked around the clock to reopen the Coquihalla Highway to essential traffic in just 35 days. This is a key route for the supply chains that move goods around our province.

I also want to touch on a few ways we’ve been working to make life better for people in Victoria and Saanich. We continue to make progress on affordable housing, including more than 150 new homes under construction at the new Crosstown development, which will also feature 36 child care spaces.

We’re investing in upgraded learning environments for our students with a new, expanded replacement on the way for Cedar Hill Middle School, and continued progress on the expansion and upgrades at Vic High.

Four new primary care networks in Victoria will bring 96 new full-time health care providers to the city over the next four years, improving access to health care.

I know that we have much more to do, and I look forward to working together with people in our community and across the province to make more progress in 2022.

– Rob Fleming is MLA for Victoria-Swan Lake and the minister of transportation and infrastructure