A new $15-million public transit facility will be constructed in south Duncan.
Ministers from the federal and provincial governments joined local representatives to make the announcement at a 1.82-hectare lot in the Koksilah Industrial Park on Aug. 2 where the transit operations and maintenance facility will be built.
Jon Lefebure, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District said there has been exceptional growth in local transit over the years, so the new facility is needed.
“This investment opportunity allows us to plan for anticipated future growth of our transit system, while leveraging the most significant federal and provincial contribution available to reduce local taxpayers’ contributions towards this project,” he said.
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 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 currently, and it is projected the fleet size will grow to 50 buses by 2033 so more space for storage and maintenance is needed.
Ottawa is providing up to $6.5 million to the project and B.C. has committed up to $4.29 million through the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.
Victoria is providing an additional funding contribution of $1.54 million to the project for land acquisition and the Cowichan Valley Regional District is responsible for any remaining costs.
Amarjeet Sohi, the federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, said he used to be a bus driver so transit services are “near and dear” to his heart.
“We have seen demand for sustainable and reliable public transportation grow considerably in urban and rural regions throughout our country, including right here in the Cowichan Valley,” he said.
“The government of Canada will continue to support public infrastructure projects that increase safety for transit users, and help British Columbia meet the transit needs of residents now and into the future.”
Claire Trevena, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said she was pleased that this was her first official announcement as minister in the new NDP government.
“Our government is committed to making life more affordable for British Columbians, and public transit is a key service which contributes towards this goal,” she said.
“This site selection will help the Cowichan Valley to meet the growing demand for transit, and the CNG plans will make this a greener, cleaner venture. I look forward to seeing the improvements to infrastructure this project will deliver.”