We hope that the new province’s new transportation study for southern Vancouver Island, which includes much of the Cowichan Valley, will lead to action. But we’re not holding our breath.
What’s needed is financial investment, and a lot of it. Also needed is stubborn political will to see it through, in the face of the inevitable naysayers. We remain unconvinced that either will be forthcoming, no matter what the transportation study ends up saying.
It’s not, after all, the first time any of these things have been studied and consolidated into reports for various levels of government. All too often studies of this type are a way to pacify people lobbying for improvements, whether it’s for rail, ferries, or public transportation. It’s a way to pay lip service to the subject, to look like they, too, care about these issues, without actually having to commit the necessary dollars to bring about real change. The studies, reports and recommendations end up gathering the proverbial dust on a shelf, until the next government comes along and decides before any action can be taken they must commission a new investigation, because the old one is now out of date — even though we’d bet most of the issues and solutions have remained the same for decades.
The fact is that here on Vancouver Island, and in Canada and indeed North America generally, our public transportation is intentionally pitiful, so that everyone will have to drive an individual (expensive) car. It’s been this way for so long now that many accept that this is inevitable and unchangeable — and even that there are no alternatives. Government cannot be entirely blamed, as people have been misled into balking at spending on public infrastructure for public transit. That’s where the stubborn political will comes in, if we want to see change (and we’d argue that change is indeed desirable and necessary).
We need, not another study, but the expensive investment in rail, in ferries and in buses.