Widening Douglas contrary to City goal to increase livability
February 29, 2016
VICTORIA — A resident of the Burnside-Gorge neighbourhood is calling on Victoria Council to review BC Transit’s plan to widen Dougals Street between Hillside and Tolmie to create an express bus lane.
Community activist Stuart Hertzog today sent the following letter expressing his concerns:
Dear Mayor and Council,
I am extremely concerned about BC Transit’s plan to remove 26 mature trees plus the green sidewalk setback along the Hillside-Tolmie section of Douglas Street.
This proposal, for which apparently you have given the go-ahead, will reduce walkability on this vital section of Douglas Street, as well as adversely impacting present and future Topaz-Tolmie business development.
It also flies in the face of the City’s planning goal of promoting walking and liveability by increasing the separation of pedestrians and traffic with green buffer zones, exactly that which Transit wants to remove.
Above Transit’s own depot, pedestrians would be sandwiched on only a 1.8-metre sidewalk between fast- moving buses and a precipitous drop — a frightening and dangerous catwalk inimicable to pedestrian use.
To remove 26 valuable mature trees from our urban forest will turn this section of Douglas Street into a traffic wasteland, and suppress development of the emerging Urban Village envisaged during recent design charrettes.
Unfortunately, BC Transit has mislead yourselves and City Engineers about public support for this proposal.
Instead of using the results of a months-long public consultation process in which 61% of 939 online respondents indicated that preserving the existing width of Douglas was their first choice, Transit substituted the results of a last-minute, 15-day online poll with only 121 responses, which it claims shows 68% support (76 responses) for widening Douglas Street. I suggest that this was an underhanded and deceitful tactic by Transit executives.
I urge Mayor and Council to reconsider this decision, which will cost taxpayers $1.6million even as BC Transit raises bus fares and eliminates the two-way transfers that are so helpful to low income Transit users.
This proposal will reduce the quality of life in our Burnside-Gorge neighbourhood.
I ask that it be halted until majority public support can be proven.
For more information contact Stuart Hertzog firstname.lastname@example.org