Running For Sidney Councillor
What would be your highest priorities in the next four years to reduce the total energy use and emissions from transportation?
I’m a proponent of making incremental improvements in existing services and infrastructure, to the extent possible, over large projects, as it allows easier course correction and usually better bang for the buck. So that would include finding the highest priority opportunities to create bus lane linkages, alter bus scheduling or routes, fill in bike lane networks, and better connect potential key multi-mode corridors (e.g. bike to bus from protected lanes to dedicated lane corridors for cross-town or peninsula commuters). In this category, I think this would simply be helping to boost the work that the members of VTC have already been doing on those fronts. In Sidney specifically, about half of our vehicle emissions are people going to work down the peninsula, and existing bus service improvements is key there, but the other half is extremely local commutes within our 2 km wide town that may require a new service of a local shuttle or bike share (maybe e-trike, for the elderly population) to address. I’d love to really get rail for cross-island travel back on the table, but it seems that in the short term, given how difficult that has been, I am game to hear more about the idea of conversion to busway to be able to use existing rolling stock, though my primary concern there is that it wouldn’t help get freight trucks off the Malahat.
Over the next 4 years, would you support increasing the space for walking, biking, and public transit and reducing that for private motor vehicles in your community? How would you do that?
Yes. One of the simplest – and least politically explosive – things would be to first just follow Victoria’s example and put good walking/bike trail signage up and altering widths/visibility to allow cycling/multi-use on some of the existing walking paths. In Sidney, there are many footpaths that connect through the 1970’s era cul-de-sacs, and they allow travellers on foot to potentially take shortcuts and avoid main roads in ways that can actually make it more efficient to travel on foot. Making these more obvious and accessible (lighting, signage indicating next connecting path) would increase their use; creating bike corridors off the main roads, that connect to the existing accesses to the Lochside trail from each neighbourhood would be particularly helpful for children travelling to school, and people nervous about sharing the main roads. Within the downtown core, realistically, the feasible first step will require groundwork with the business community to take a good look at what the existing parking study data shows about usage in town, case studies from other cities and brainstorm together about opportunities for introducing paid parking schemes such as the potential benefits of parking benefit districts and metered street parking. We could also prioritize producing data to better advocate improvements in transit service geared for workers – in order to get better bus service, we need to have a better idea of the origins and destinations of our commuters, as it is the long wait times for connections (e.g. getting to UVic or the West Shore after getting off the 72) that makes it so unpopular right now.
Would you actively encourage the provincial government to prioritize public transit, walking and biking infrastructure over roadway expansion projects such as the proposed interchanges on the Pat Bay Highway?
Yes. My response to the BC Clean Growth Intentions Paper on Transportation at my website (www.duncanforsidney.com) describes my thoughts on encouraging active transportation versus flashy large projects or new tech in full.
Do you support making walking safer and more enjoyable in Sidney?
What specific policies, projects and expenditures would you support in the next four years to make walking safer and more pleasant in Sidney?
Getting behind the work that Jeannette Hughes began to improve accessibilty for those with mobility issues, and expanding them outside the core; Sidney has been implementing sidewalk widths, curb cuts, street lighting and other features to improve accessibilty for people using mobility aids or with low vision for all new developments, but there is substantial work to be done to retrofit the existing sidewalks outside the core so that people on foot, using strollers, scooters or wheelchairs can actually safely get to the core from their neighbourhood in the first place. We have many roads with narrow sidewalks with power poles in the middle, sidewalks on only one side, or none at all, and we could prioritize improvements on key corridors and connections with the foot trail network to remove some of those barriers. Filling in areas lacking street trees will also be critical – there are stretches with no shade in the residential areas particularly in the north, and it discourages walking in the summer months, particularly for the old and very young.
Do you support building a community-wide network of all ages and abilities (“AAA”) bike routes in the next four years?
I would certainly support putting it to staff to see what level of effort and cost that would entail in Sidney, and getting it into an objective in the OCP as we update that. Since our current number of AAA routes is 0 (even the Lochside trail is in poor surface repair) I don’t think construction of it could be accomplished within four years.
Do you support building a protected bike lane on Beacon Ave?
I think that would be excellent – circling the core of town by connecting right to the Lochside Trail at 5th, going up Beacon, and having a connection at the Lochside at the Mary Winspear. I can’t imagine many proposals that would garner more local outrage, however! A painted temporary bike lane trial, tracking the effect on business (parking, parking, parking), would potentially be a feasible idea to float with the business community to dispel some myths and allay some fears about what would happen if such a thing was done.
Would you support completing the 24/7 bus lanes along the Douglas Street/Highway 1 corridor, as well as along other routes such as the Pat Bay Highway as a high priority for municipalities and the BC government in the next four years?
Would you support keeping the E&N railway as a railway and actively campaign for electrified passenger and freight services?
Would you support and actively campaign for street-level electrified rapid transit in the greater Victoria region? If so, along what routes
Not sure. My preference for using existing infrastructure versus building new makes me leery, but I’d definitely be open to hearing about the feasibility and costs from people who’d thought longer and harder about it. I would guess it would be best for cross town and circle routes in the densest neighbourhoods of Victoria, Saanich, possibly Langford, Esquimalt to feed commuters to the main bus corridors.
In the next four years, would you support removing the requirements for off-street vehicle parking from new and infill developments?
I would, but outside the main commercial core and adjacent blocks of Sidney, in the locations where the existing parking study from two years ago suggests parking is at or over capacity already. In the single-family residential zones, there is still abundant street parking available, and reducing off-street parking would therefore be possible and a much easier sell.
In the next four years, how, would you activate and bring more people into public spaces within your municipality, including sidewalks, public squares, streets and parks?
We have a Downtown Streetscape and Urban Design Standards report from 2017 which will begin to be incorporated into the downtown design which I think will already go a long way there. Those suggestions include hard and soft landscaping to increase shade, human scale features (awnings), seating areas and plantings. I’m really excited about continuing with the public park improvements and planning per the Parks Master Plan released in January of this year, which contains a lot of good ideas to make our neighbourhood parks more inviting and in some cases more environmentally beneficial (rain gardens, native planting, naturalizing areas, stream restoration). Other ideas brought forward already also include adding gazebos and areas designed for picnicking, as well as improvements in the trail network.