Campbell River city council made a few significant decisions last week during its financial planning deliberations in regards to the city’s transit system.
One was the decision to invest $200,000 in a bus pullout at Carihi Secondary to get BC Transit buses off the southbound driving lanes of Dogwood Street when stopping to pick up and drop off passengers – much like the pullout in place northbound on Dogwood at Strathcona Gardens.
The initial cost of the project was set to be $350,000, however that was the cost projection for a three-bus pullout – a budget created under the assumption that School District 72 (SD72) buses would also use the area.
Mayor Andy Adams proposed asking staff for a review of that amount to see what it would cost to install a pullout that could fit one bus instead, since it’s the city’s job to provide infrastructure to accommodate BC Transit buses, not school buses. That should be the responsibility of the school district, Adams says.
“I would hope that council, along with the SD72 liaison committee or staff liaise as to whether this is something that SD72 wishes to consider, and if so, they could finance the portion applicable for their buses and we could partner and get some economies of scale,” Adams said, “but I don’t think it should be our responsibility to pay 100 per cent of those costs.”
Although Coun. Michele Babchuk somewhat agreed with that assessment, she also pointed out that it would be SD72 property being used for the pullout, which is actually a pretty substantial contribution.
But because council had to have an actual amount in the budget, Coun. Charlie Cornfield asked staff if $200,000 would be a reasonable approximation, which would put the extra $150,000 back into the metaphorical pot to use for other projects or services.
Drew Hadfield, the city’s director of operations, told Cornfield that $200,000 would be “more than enough for the project,” and council voted in favour of moving forward with the plan in 2019.
The other change made last week in regards to the city’s public transit infrastructure was the doubling of the rate at which new bus shelters will be installed going forward.
The city had a standing $40,000 annual budget to install new bus shelters, but Coun. Claire Moglove wanted to double that amount, saying, in part, “if we are serious about trying to encourage people to use transit, we need to increase the rate at which we increase bus shelters. $40,000, I’m told, provides two or three bus shelters per year, so in order to facilitate all the new shelters we want, it would take many, many, many years.”
Adams said he couldn’t support that, due mainly to the increased workload on city staff involved in “the installation of not only the shelters, but the pads and doing the assessments of what kind of shelter goes in what location in terms of the size and accessibility and whether it’s an interchange or not.”
Coun. Ron Kerr’s concern was whether BC Transit would support the increase, since shelter installation is contingent on them splitting the cost with the city.
“There is a funding mechanism in place with BC Transit where they pay for 47 per cent of the shelters,” Hadfield said, “so we basically double our investment in these and as long as we provide them with an indication of how many we wish to put in during the year, they consider that and most times are able to accommodate us.”
In the end, the vote was carried with Moglove, Kerr, Cornfield and Dahl voting in favour and Adams, Babchuk and Evans opposed.