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Town of Sidney considers new Peninsula transit hub

Sidney council members discuss a potential transit hub at Seventh Street and Bevan Avenue
Sidney council members discussed a potential transit hub on Bevan Avenue and Seventh Street on June 17.

Town of Sidney council members heard a presentation from B.C. Transit representatives who are trying to build a transit hub for the Greater Victoria bus and to further the Victoria Regional Rapidbus Implementation Strategy.

At a committee of the whole meeting on June 17, councillors discussed the hub as the planning process enters the third phase of five before it is tendered and construction begins.

According to transit infrastructure engineer Simon Button, the hub would help further the Rapidbus plan, which would have three bus lines, one of which would go up the Peninsula to Swartz Bay, that would offer increased service, and would outperform personal vehicles in speed, comfort and reliability.

Button described a transit hub as a "distinct, clearly identifiable area we can go to catch the bus that may look and feel a bit different than your typical bus stop." It would allow people to easily transfer to different bus routes and other modes of transportation.

B.C. Transit laid out several options for a location of the hub, but they said being based on Seventh Street and Bevan Avenue would be best. That location has parking opportunities and could support sidewalk and crosswalk upgrades, a large transit shelter and room for amenities for around $3 million, though the price is a rough estimate.

The project would be paid for by the province, though if the town wanted extra infrastructure upgrades it would have to help foot the bill.

Several council members were concerned with the area of Seventh Street and Bevan Avenue because it is already a heavily congested road with a high number of accidents every year, and it could limit airport access to pedestrians in the future.

"It can be a congested area, and certainly during what we call rush hour times," said Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith. "However, let's remember that our overall strategy throughout the region is modal shift, and these are the initiatives that need to come forward and need to be advanced for us to see a mode shift."

Councillors Scott Garnett, Chad Rintoul and Richard Novek said they still have reservations about the plan because of vehicle-pedestrian safety and because of the trees and riparian area that would be affected by the development.

Novek said he would support the plan if there were a bigger change in transit speed, but he said it would only reduce the travel time between Sidney and downtown Victoria by about 10 per cent.

Council agreed to explore the option further as the recommendation moves to a council meeting and to hear thoughts from residents and stakeholders on the plan.

The committee unanimously voted in favour of moving the recommendation – to approve the recommended option – to a later council meeting.

The plan will also be discussed by the Regional Transit Commission in September.