Marianne Alto

Running for Victoria Councillor

What would be your highest priorities in the next four years to reduce the total energy use and emissions from transportation?

As our city and region grows, we have to create balanced options for transit riders, motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, electric and conventional modes, and allow for new and sustainable transportation solutions. Our over-reliance on single occupancy vehicles as our prime transportation mode has to be met with practical alternatives, especially for those living in outlying areas and working in the city’s core. Environmental and economic balance is essential to our community’s (all our communities’) future. It can be done, and will be done as soon as the majority of individuals understand and accept that new economies can – and must – include environmentally sound projects. Principles of sustainability, capacity building and social benefit apply as well to economies as they do to conservation. Moving toward that reality is a step-by-step process, and the city’s recent Climate Leadership Plan is moving us towards demanding standards of operation and emissions. That said, we have not yet achieved balance, and each of us will need to contribute daily in our respective fields.

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. As a former member of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission I worked to develop a number of transit upgrades you’ve already seen, from the new transit corridor on Douglas Street to bike lanes, and more – and more frequent – buses. We can do more, andmy platform outlines how we can:

  • Support a regional transportation commission
  • Press for more buses on city and inter-city routes
  • Create FREE public parkade parking and access to bus lanes for electric vehicles
  • Develop more designated anchor parking spots for car share services
  • Implement a staff transit pass program

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, the city started this shift in priorities with protected bike lanes downtown, which will continue with the next phase of neighborhood routes. More, enhanced and sophisticated transit services will continue to shift modes of travel throughout the region. The city can’t do this work without support from, and collaboration with, other levels of government. The better path forward is to take the transit commission model and expand that to become a regional transportation planning and operation commission. This means we could consider the transportation needs of people inclusive of their varied abilities, and focused on reducing the need for long commutes between work and home.

Do you support making walking safer and more enjoyable in the City of Victoria?

Yes. The safety and convenience of all residents is important to council. Whether it’s our children that need to get to school safely, or a mobility challenged individual needing to get to  the store or the doctor, we want to make sure we are creating not only safe access routes, but asthetically pleasing ones as well. And walking as a wellness tool.

What specific policies, projects and expenditures would you support in the next four years to make walking safer and more pleasant in the City of Victoria?

Generally, more, wider sidewalks, better lighting, safer crosswalks, more attention to repairs, more funding for safety features for people with disabilities, like truncated domes. One specific example which I was happy to facilitate – the Kiwanis Village is directly across the street from Oswald Park which has features designed to be used by seniors. Yet there were no connectors. Now, they have a marked, controlled crosswalk. By and large circumstances dictate pedestrian access and movement – the city uses a national standard of populations and usage, and that informs a systematic evaluation of infrastructure priorities. But neighborhoods and their demographics change and create special circumstances that need rapid revaluations, council has the ability to respond to those circumstances, and should use it when circumstances dictate.

Do you support building a community-wide network of all ages and abilities (“AAA”) bike routes in the next four years?

Yes – and we need to seek funding from sources beyond the city to accelerate the plan and reduce the reliance on city taxpayers.

Do you support completing the downtown AAA bikeway grid on Wharf St, Humboldt St and Vancouver St?

Yes – I’ve already voted for this to move forward, and I believe we can do better with each leg as we learn from the evolving experience.

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?

Yes. As a former member of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission I support bus only lanes, when the buses are operating. We don’t have 24-hour buses – yet – but we need to look at that eventuality. We need people that work at different times of the day to be able to get to where they need to go. When we get there, 24/7 buses work.

Would you support keeping the E&N railway as a railway and actively campaign for electrified passenger and freight services?

I support the E&N track as an inter-city rail route. But the second half of this question is technical – yes, after a technical and financial analysis of the pros and cons of a rail system and what kind of fuel source would make the best sense. Maybe it’s electric, but the business case – which would speak to the environmental and financial viability of differently fueled train systems – would have to be persuasive.

Would you support and actively campaign for street-level electrified rapid transit in the greater Victoria region? If so, along what routes?

Yes – it’s a great step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and can offer mass transit efficiently. But my answer depends again on answering some key technical questions. We need a careful analysis of the financial and environmental planning to determine the best routes, fuel usage, and additional infrastructure considerations for the project. Generally, I would hope for routes that serve UVic, downtown, Westshore and the peninsula, including the airport.

In the next four years, would you support removing the requirements for off-street vehicle parking from new and infill developments?

At the moment, no, because Council has recently revised off street parking restrictions to further reduce requirements for those developments. And we need to think about the needs of people who rely on transportation such as taxis, delivery services, tradespeople, seniors, persons with limited mobility, etc. I’m not against revisiting these requirements in the future.

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?

The potential for creating and bringing more people into public spaces is great. We can create a green/open public space policy and explore better ways to steward boulevard and public space. This will need vision, planning, collaboration, partnership and financial support from sources outside city resources. Neighbours must be involved so we can understand their needs and desires and consider what we can do to address those. This is truly about collaboratively finding more ways to grow and expand public space use and simplify a process to make that happen.

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