Cowichan Valley Regional District chairman Jon Lefebure, left, Jinny Sims, B.C.’s Minister of Citizens’ Services, and Aaron Lamb, BC Transit’s vice-president of asset management, prepare to break ground for the Valley’s new $16-million transit facility on July 17. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Ground broken for new $16.2-million transit facility in Cowichan

Ground-breaking ceremony for project held on Juy 17

Work will soon begin on a new $16.2-million public transit facility in south Duncan.

Politicians and dignitaries gathered at the 4.5-acre site at 5271 Boal Rd. on the morning of July 17 for a ground-breaking ceremony for the new Cowichan Valley Transit Maintenance and Operations facility.

When complete, expected in the winter of 2019, the new facility will include parking for up to 50 buses, three vehicle maintenance bays, administrative space and on site bus washing and fueling facilities.

“This new transit facility will help meet the needs of people in the Cowichan Valley, which has seen tremendous growth in ridership over the past few years,” said Jinny Sims, minister of Citizens’ Services, who spoke on behalf of Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena at the ground-breaking ceremony.

“Needing a larger facility to accommodate increasing demand for transit is a great problem to have, and now the Cowichan community will benefit from improved services for years to come.”

RELATED STORY: TRANSIT FACILITY COMING TO COWICHAN

The site was chosen because of its central location in the Cowichan Valley and its access to key transportation corridors for BC Transit vehicles, while the site itself, which is almost double that of the existing facility’s land, will help provide capacity for future expansion of transit services.

Since 2000, the Cowichan Valley transit system ridership has risen more than 140 per cent, increasing from 195,000 to 470,000 trips taken annually.

The bus fleet size has also increased more than 180 per cent from 11 buses in 2000 to 31, and it is projected the fleet size will grow to 50 buses by 2033 so more space for storage and maintenance is needed.

The project was first announced in 2016 as part of the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.

Approximately 83 per cent of the construction costs are being provided by the federal and provincial governments, and the remaining construction costs will be covered by the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

Land and other costs not covered under the PTIF funding will be shared by the province and the CVRD.

Jon Lefebure, chairman of the CVRD, said it’s amazing how far public transit has come in the Valley since it was first introduced 25 years ago with just two small buses.

“The transit service is essential for those with less resources, and also to get people out of their cars,” he said.

“We thank the federal and provincial governments and BC Transit for investing in the future capacity of our region through this transit facility.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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