In the next decade, people may start to move around the City of Colwood a little differently than they are right now. With major growth predicted in the city — and on the West Shore — over the next few years, Colwood is looking at ways to make transportation affordable, accessible, easier and more environmentally friendly.
According to the city’s 2015 Transportation Master Plan, Colwood residents used cars to get around 89 per cent of the time. The plan aimed to decrease that to 75 per cent by 2026.
“The traditional approach to transportation planning for a growing city is to build more and wider roads. … Colwood is taking a different tactic,” the Transportation Master Plan says. “The city is enhancing accessibility options for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities to walk, bike and take transit. This approach will ultimately cost less and bring more benefits to the city.”
The new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows how urgent the transition away from fossil fuel transit is.
The Discourse caught up with acting mayor and Colwood Coun. Dean Jantzen to talk about the future of transportation in Colwood. Jantzen is also the chair of the city’s transportation committee. Check out our Q&A and some more information about transportation in Colwood below.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
The Discourse: What is transportation going to look like in the next 10 years in Colwood?
Coun. Dean Jantzen: Well obviously we’re going to see pressures. We know that density in Royal Bay is going to require improvements on Latoria Road and improvements on Veterans Memorial Parkway.
Our plan also tells us that Metchosin Road will get busier. And unfortunately, just given the nature of Metchosin Road, we’re limited in the width of the roadway and there’s really not a whole lot we can do, so we have to provide an outlet. And that’s going to be along Latoria Road to Veterans Memorial Parkway and then through to the highway.
So it’s these master transportation plans that allow us to take a look at what’s happening today and leverage our development community into building the infrastructure that’s required for the future. And the problem is I think this can’t be done piecemeal.
If we have a focus on density, that allows us to really get a good picture of what things are going to look like in 10 years. So, with some knowledge and with a lot of work done by staff and the traffic experts, we can forecast what that’s going to look like and build appropriately.
But unfortunately, things are changing. The climate is changing, and the use of the automobile will shift for the next generation. So we do have to factor that in.
TD: That brings me to my next question which is, how do you think active transportation can help ease some of the predicted traffic issues?
DJ: You know, I had never contemplated an e-bike 10 years ago. And now we know we’re hearing, both anecdotally and from some of our advisors and staff members, that e-bikes are becoming a viable alternative for people to get to work.
A great example of this is the building that has gone in now on Wale Road, right next to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. Council really worked with staff and we wanted a real focus on sufficient bike parking and e-bike charging because here’s an example where it’s probably quicker to jump on the Galloping Goose Trail and race downtown on your e-bike than to drive or catch the bus.
So it’s about providing alternatives like that, and recognizing that e-scooters, e-bikes, that kind of thing will have an impact on this and also allowing the ability for commuters to make a transportation choice and make it viable for them.
There’s going to be a lot of focus in the next decade here on RapidBus as we hear from BC Transit and the planning that’s going on there. So we’ll be looking at bus lanes from Sooke Road down to the highway and RapidBus routes. So again, that becomes a more viable alternative.
We can’t legislate people out of their cars and we have to recognize that alternative modes of transportation don’t work for everybody. So there’s no one panacea that resolves the issues for the community. It has to be really holistic.
TD: Will Colwood become more walkable as transportation plans roll out?
DJ: So there is a focus on connecting pathways. I think we need to be clear that we might not be talking about paved sidewalks that connect from street to street, but what we are talking about are viable urban trails that one could use to get to through streets or commuter routes.
We [currently] have some trails that just end rather abruptly, so we’re planning to connect these through neighbourhoods and staff have done a good job of mapping out these interconnecting trails. And I believe that is money well spent because these trails can be used by kids on the way to school or people on their way to work or even just families to enjoy.
An interesting phenomenon too, is that we have these sophisticated stretches of roadway that have viable commuter bike lanes and then we have much quieter treed pathways, and the question is how do we connect these smaller cycling routes to other more sophisticated cycling infrastructure?
We are a young community so our infrastructure is quite young and there is much work to be done, but it is exciting.
TD: It seems that there are things that are already underway in terms of transportation planning and upgrades. So what’s going on now and what’s coming in the near future?
DJ: Timelines are sometimes difficult to project but right this minute, we have two great sidewalk projects that are underway. One is near Dunsmuir Middle School along Painter Road and it will connect directly to the Painter Trail, which leads down into Royal Bay. These are great trails down at Royal Bay that kind of come to an end at Painter Road and now we’re continuing them with a safe path to get to Dunsmuir Middle School.
And schools are always a focus as far as having safer routes so that we can encourage young folks in our communities to use their bikes and families to walk to school.
And then on Metchosin Road, there’s a sidewalk improvement project there as well which connects to the edge of the Royal Bay development near the top of the hill. And those are moving very quickly. In fact, surprisingly quick. I believe that the timeline for completion is even prior to school being back. We’ve had those projects funded for the last couple of years and it’s just nice to see them actually kick off.
We are super excited about a grant application that has been made by the community to get some funding to help build an overpass for the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. Right now you hit the trail, meander past Royal Roads University and all of a sudden you come out to Sooke Road and you are required to nip down to the intersection where the park and ride is and then ride up Wale Road to connect once again to these trails.
So it has been on our wish list for many councils and with some infrastructure dollars put out there by the federal government, we made an application for this project.
TD: How are these transportation projects going to be funded?
DJ: I am a first-term councillor so learning where the money comes from has been an exercise. We make sure that we submit grant applications wherever possible. As far as taxes go, we’re growing as a community which means infrastructure is growing and requires replacement or remediation. But as people or businesses move here, we know that the tax base widens as well.
TD: What’s your dream vision of Colwood’s transportation network in the next 10 years?
DJ: Our council is behind our mayor 100 per cent in seeking an alternative for commuters to get into the City of Victoria — things like the proposed ferry. I know the infrastructure for the ferry is quite expensive but we can’t just keep doing things the same way, we have to find some creativity. I think this would be a wonderful start. I would love to see senior levels of government stepping up to help us get that started.
Beyond that, I do believe this region is right for some type of mass transit option to get into the city. And unfortunately, our population density isn’t there yet but I believe in this next generation we will be. If I’m still at the council table, I will be pushing senior levels of government to look at some type of train option, whether that be elevated or street level. So that’s the Cadillac.
And in the next few years, it’s exciting to see the RapidBus option develop. They’re saying that you could get on a bus out of, say, the Triangle Mountain area, and you could be in downtown Victoria in as little as 20 or 30 minutes so then the bus becomes a more viable alternative. And I know that there’s a lot of traffic right now, just from volume and also the construction that’s going on, but we encourage everybody to be patient and bear with the improvements over the next few months and in the next few years.
TD: How will community input be considered over the coming years?
DJ: I hope that lots of people find their way to the Colwood web page and the links that exist there to provide feedback and give us some direction. What is important is what resonates with the community, or at least a significant portion of the community to allow us to focus and make the best decision possible. So I do encourage everybody to go on to the webpage and follow the links and give their feedback.
Further reading on Colwood transportation initiatives
- Colwood is rolling out several initiatives to improve its transportation networks. According to a city webpage, a “multi-faceted approach” is being taken to create neighbourhoods with shops, services and jobs all in the same area. This would make it easy to walk or bike to work and school, or to run errands. These high-density neighbourhoods can make it cost effective for BC Transit to schedule frequent trips in the area as well, Colwood says, and different modes of transportation could make traffic less congested.
- The city’s Active Transportation Plan seeks to construct sidewalks and cycling lanes along priority routes over the next 10 years. The first phase of the plan is already underway with sidewalks being built along Metchosin and Painter roads. There is a long list of potential sidewalks and bike lanes to be built, which can be found here.
- Colwood’s Transportation Master Plan is up for review next year, the city says, and will be updated with new projections and conditions.
- A traffic impact analysis for the Royal Bay, Royal Beach and Olympic View neighbourhoods has also been conducted with future consideration of widening Latoria Road.
- The city applied for grants to construct a pedestrian and cycling bridge over Sooke Road to connect to the Wale Road side of the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. Information about that project can be found here.
- BC Transit announced it will be bringing RapidBus transit to the West Shore, with queue jump lanes along Sooke Road/Island Highway. Read The Discourse’s story about this here.
- Colwood is also entertaining concepts for a multi-use trail along the waterfront, including a trail that would connect the Lagoon Beach to Royal Beach. The Waterfront Stewardship Plan is in the public engagement phase right now and residents can take a survey about the plan here. It is set to be presented to Colwood Council after the summer.
- Several other initiatives like traffic monitoring, traffic calming and developing a Parks & Recreation Master Plan are also taking place. For a full list of what’s going on, click here.