Thursday May 19, 2022 | VIEW ROYAL, BC
by Jalen Codrington | Island Social Trends
Students from Eagle View Elementary got down in the dirt today, planting shrubs at the site of the future View Royal handyDART centre at 2401 Burnside Road West in View Royal.
The event hosted by BC Transit today marked the initial stages of their new handyDART facility. HandyDART buses provide door-to-door transit services for individuals with reduced mobility.
The new 2,380-square-metre Victoria HandyDART Centre facility will include office space, operator dispatch, and vehicle maintenance bays.
The facility is expected to accommodate 110 buses. There will approximately 19 employees working on site during the day to support dispatch, customer service and vehicle servicing. On opening day, there will be about 60 drivers (to match BC Transit’s opening day target of 60 buses). Drivers and buses are largely not on-site during the day as they are serving customers across the region.
The overall project budget is $32.5 million, comprised of federal, provincial, and regional contributions. The Government of Canada is investing $12.6 million through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The BC Government is contributing $12.96 million, and the Victoria Regional Transit Commission is contributing $6.94 million.
Timeline to get started:
Contractors broke ground early in 2022, after various pushback to the project.
In both 2018 and 2019, View Royal council rejected the site proposal. View Royal Mayor David Screech cited concern from the community regarding noise, traffic, diesel fumes, and environmental degradation.
In June 2019, however, the municipality received a letter from Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena which overrode objections. The letter stated that since the property was designated as adjacent to an arterial highway, the province could bypass the town’s concerns and go ahead with the facility.
In 2020, a petition called Save Craigflower Creek as launched to prevent construction of the facility, currently sitting at 1,859 signatures.
Riparian zone protection:
According to BC Transit, the project development will be setback 30 metres from Craigflower Creek and is an opportunity for restoration. The project overview states that the original riparian zone was overgrown with weeds and invasive species, providing little ecological value.
“We said we have an opportunity here to actually really make some significant improvements to the creek,” said Levi Timmermans, Project Owner.
In a 2021 survey from BC Transit, when asked if they felt the proposed measures would help enhance and preserve the habitat, 46 per cent of participants said they agree or strongly disagree, 36 per cent said they disagree or strongly disagree, and 18 per cent said they were unsure.
Timmermans said he was pleased at refining the project to address the legitimate concerns of the community. “It’s an example of how to do a project really well,” he said.
Part of the restoration plan includes restoration of degraded woodland habitat, a new aquatic habitat introduced, and stormwater being cleaned, aerated and slowly released into Craigflower Creek.
A robust and detailed site lighting plan was completed which incorporates dark skies principles to ensure achieve both light pollution mitigation and site operational safety objectives.
The facility is set to open in 2024.
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Jalen Codrington has been a photojournalism contributor to Island Social Trends since spring 2021. He is a 4th-year University of Victoria student in history and English.