Council endorses two new transit hubs

City council has endorsed a transit plan that includes expansion of service and the addition of new transit exchanges at either end of the city.

At its Monday night meeting, council supported a new operating agreement with BC Transit that, if approved, will increase the frequency of transit service but at the same time, have a long-term financial impact on the city.

Drew Hadfield, the city’s transportation manager, said the change in service would result in modifications to the routes and schedules and the need for two extra buses.

“The first of the proposed increases will include up to 1,500 hours of additional service; creating 20 minute service on the Dogwood/Alder corridor,” Hadfield said.

BC Transit is also proposing two new bus exchanges – one in Willow Point and another in Campbellton.

Hadfield said the improvements – proposed for September, 2017 – would increase what the city pays for transit by $134,941 per year.

The city currently pays 53 per cent of transit costs while BC Transit pays 47 per cent.

At Monday’s meeting, Coun. Ron Kerr wanted to know if the agreement is a done deal.

“My concern is what I’ve heard for the hub locations, proposed for Campbellton and Willow Point,” said Kerr, who questioned whether council would get to have input on where the exchanges are located.

Ron Neufeld, the city’s deputy city manager, said council’s endorsement of the proposed changes simply puts Campbell River in the queue to advise BC Transit that it’s interested in expanded service.

“What the changes would actually look like would be fleshed out once the funds are secured,” Neufeld said.

In February, the province announced $12.7 million in funding over the next three years to support transit expansion.

How those funds will be spent is yet to be determined as the province will have the final say on how the money will be distributed. BC Transit, though, has taken the step to identify and approach those communities it has deemed fit for service expansions. Once funding is confirmed, BC Transit will initiate an implementation plan – including detailed costs – for council to look over.