News

Courtenay getting around to building bus shelters

The first three new bus shelters to be built this year in Courtenay will be on Ryan Road and Centennial Drive.

Council received a report from Derek Richmond, the city's manager of engineering, and Kevin Lagan, the director of operational services, about the bus shelter program Monday.

A bus shelter task force was formed in August 2010, and it identified the top three high-priority locations as the Driftwood Mall and Walmart, which are both privately owned land, and the current terminus location at the Courtenay and District Museum, which is City property.

The City is negotiating with the property owners at the Driftwood Mall and Walmart to assist with those shelters, and the Driftwood Mall shelter is secured through the development permit process for installation within one year. The museum shelter is under discussion with BC Transit.

The bus shelter task force has recommended a three-year implementation program, which includes the installation of three shelters per year, and as the top three shelters are still being negotiated, it has agreed that the first three shelters for 2011 will be eastbound on Ryan Road in front of the Coastal Community Credit Union, westbound on Ryan Road in front of the RCMP detachment, and on Centennial Drive in front of the convenience store.

BC Transit implemented a bus shelter program in April that cost-shares shelter capital and installation costs with municipalities. It appears the cost-sharing formula would be 53 per cent municipalities and 47 per cent BC Transit, while the municipalities would fund 100 per cent of the cost of the concrete pad, according to the report.

Developers and private property owners are eligible to purchase shelters directly from BC Transit.

The city will be responsible in perpetuity for the maintenance of the shelters, noted the report.

The net cost to the city in 2011 could be up to $31,000 for the three shelters. Once the amount of the funding is established, the monies for the capital work should be from gaming revenue, while operation and maintenance funds would come from the roads and street operating budget, noted Richmond and Lagan.

Coun. Doug Hillian, who had asked for the report on the progress of the bus shelter program, expressed hope that the three shelters would be built before the weather gets very rainy and cold.

"My hope is there is a plan that will see these shelters up by October at the latest," he said.

"In the approximately 18 months since this issue was first broached, we managed to successfully widen Cliffe Avenue, we've seen the largest Costco on Vancouver Island built, and we're about to launch into a major renovation to City Hall and our recreation centre, so the construction of a number of relatively low-cost bus shelters as an amenity that our more vulnerable citizens and transit-using public can rely upon, I think is a modest accomplishment that we should certainly be able to complete before the onset of the rainy season," he added.

The city has applied for the shelters through BC Transit and is at the mercy of getting them delivered, explained Lagan.

"But once they are here, we will work hard to get them installed," he said.

Coun. Larry Jangula had some concerns about "continuously building shelters that are constantly destroyed."

"I think we have to be very careful how far we go down this route," he said. "Taxpayers are already subsidizing transit. I wonder why Transit itself doesn't fund this."

Hillian noted that there are ways to design shelters that make them more resistant to vandalism, and he felt the shelters were important to get more people riding the bus.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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