The high costs of preparing a comprehensive $194,000 transportation plan for the City of Duncan raised concerns with some municipal councillors at a recent meeting, but council decided to move forward with the process after staff explained the importance of the plan to the community.
Coun. Garry Bruce said he was struggling with such a large financial commitment when the city is just approximately one square kilometre, and asked staff if the much larger neighbouring municipalities of North Cowichan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District were participating in the development of the plan as well.
“It scares me considering how small we are and how much we want to spend on something like this when we really don’t have control over the boundaries outside of our area,” Bruce said.
Peter de Verteuil, Duncan’s CAO, said the Municipality of North Cowichan is currently undertaking to update its own transportation master plan and it’s important that both municipalities work together to ensure that both plans align when completed.
But he said it’s paramount that the City of Duncan has its own consultants and process that can speak specifically to the desires and interests of the city and its taxpayers.
“It’s always a bit unnerving that these [planning processes] are very expensive and are just plans as opposed to building stuff but, over the years, a number of different one-off ideas for transportation have come forward and we don’t want to make ad-hoc decisions anymore,” de Verteuil said.
“We need a comprehensive transportation plan on how to move traffic around the city for the foreseeable future. Without a plan, we’re just winging it and that won’t serve us well into the future.”
The city has chosen Urban Systems Ltd., the same company chosen by the municipality to be the consultants on its review and update of Duncan’s official community plan, to be the consultants for the transportation plan
The company has been tasked to carry out a significant consultation process seeking input from the public, council, transportation professionals, staff and stakeholders to confirm community values in regards to transportation as part of the process.
According to a staff report, the transportation plan will reflect the city’s desire to encourage sustainable and efficient transportation modes across Duncan, and at connections to the neighbouring areas.
Brian Murphy, Duncan’s director of public works and engineering, said the largest portion of the costs of the transportation plan is for the consultation process.
He said staff want the end result of the process to be the most robust transportation plan possible.
Murphy acknowledged that $194,000 is a significant investment, but said if the plan is done right, the city will be able to make the best decisions for its transportation systems for many years to come.
“There hasn’t been a study like this for so long, there’s no documents worth referencing to build the new plan on,” he said.
“The scope of the plan is comprehensive, the consultants are comprehensive, and the timing of joint consultations [with North Cowichan] provides us with a key opportunity.”