MLA wades into Victoria-Oak Bay bike lane dispute

Andrew Weaver is suggesting the province not provide funds for the Richardson bike lanes unless Victoria consults with Oak Bay council

The former leader of the B.C. Green Party is calling on the provincial government to ignore any funding requests from Victoria for a bike route on Richardson Street until the city consults with the District of Oak Bay — something the City of Victoria says has already happened.

乐橙官网平台 Andrew Weaver, who left the Green Party caucus and now represents Oak Bay-Gordon Head as an independent MLA, has fired off a letter to Victoria council expressing “profound concern” about plans to close off Richardson at Foul Bay Road on the Oak Bay border and allow only bike traffic through the intersection.

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In his letter, he says Oak Bay is planning to expand its active transportation infrastructure. “It strikes me as both a missed opportunity and inappropriate for you not to consult with them on your plans,” he writes. “My recommendation to government is that provincial funding requests for the Richardson corridor project not be considered until such time as consultation is completed.”

Weaver, a climate scientist, was unavailable for an interview Monday, but stated on his website that his office has received a number of emails from people concerned about the road closure.

乐橙官网平台 “Unfortunately, the City of Victoria has chosen not to send their proposal to the District of Oak Bay for comment,” he said. “In my view, this is unacceptable since Victoria is surrounded by neighbouring communities and any traffic flow changes have significant concomitant regional consequences.”

Map - proposed bike lane on Richardson Road.

乐橙官网平台 But Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said Victoria staff were in regular contact with Oak Bay staff. “From May 2019 until the time that public engagement process wrapped up in February 2020, Oak Bay staff were apprised of the initial design, the revised design,” she said.

She objected to Weaver’s suggestion that Victoria council “unilaterally decided” to restrict traffic to 500 cars per day along Richardson. Helps said the decision was based on design guidelines for all ages and abilities bike networks. “We looked at what’s happening in Vancouver and other [places.] That’s what you do when you make it an all ages and abilities route.”

Weaver suggested that any move to close Richardson at Foul Bay would divert traffic to Fairfield Road, thereby posing an increased risk to elementary students attending Margaret Jenkins and Sir James Douglas schools. But Helps said city staff have done traffic modeling and they’ve taken a “complete streets approach.”

The whole motivation behind the 32-kilometre cycling network is to create safe roads for vulnerable users and to fight climate change. she said. “When it’s done, it’s going to reduce 10,000 tonnes of [carbon dioxide] per year from going into the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s climate action at its best, so this letter is a little bit puzzling in that regard as well.”

乐橙官网平台 Victoria council approved designs this month for the next eight kilometres of bike routes that connect the downtown cycling network to neighbourhoods to the west and east.

The approvals include a 2.8-kilometre shared-use corridor along Richardson Street from Vancouver Street to Foul Bay Road, linking the core area network to the Fairfield-Gonzales neighbourhood, Rockland and the District of Oak Bay.

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