VICTORIA, BC, Dec. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Residents of the Capital Region will
benefit from the purchase of 16 new double-decker buses for the Capital region
- the largest expansion of Victoria's fleet in more than a decade. This
expansion, made possible in part by a federal investment of $5.65 million from
the federal Gas Tax Fund, was announced today by the Honourable Gary Lunn,
Minister of Natural Resources, on behalf of Lawrence Cannon, Minister of
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. Minister Lunn was joined by Ida
Chong, Minister of Community Services in British Columbia; Susan Gimse,
President of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM); Mayor Don Amos, Chair of
the Victoria Regional Transit Commission; and Denise Blackwell, Capital
Regional District (CRD) Chair.
"This important investment in public transit will help to meet the
environmental objectives and public transportation needs of the Capital
Regional District," said Minister Lunn. "Through our successful infrastructure
partnership, the Government of Canada is supporting BC communities and the
health of the environment."
The funds that will flow to BC Transit for the fleet expansion are a
portion of the gas tax funding available to the CRD. The new buses will be
used to implement the initial transit phases of the CRD's Regional Growth
Strategy. Douglas Street has been designated by the City of Victoria and the
CRD as the preferred transit corridor in both the Regional Growth Strategy and
the associated "TravelChoices" strategy.
"I'm pleased that this funding will expand the bus fleet in the Capital
region and increase options for environmentally sustainable transportation,"
said Minister Chong. "This government partnership will go a long way to
encourage more residents in Greater Victoria to leave their cars at home by
choosing public transit."
"Fleet expansion will provide improved transit service throughout the
region," said President Gimse. "In combination with the construction of the
E&N Rail Trail, the Gas Tax Fund is assisting the CRD to achieve its goal of
better cycling, walking and public transit services."
In August of this year, the partners of the Gas Tax Fund announced the
transfer of $11.3 million to support the construction of the E&N Rail Trail, a
17-km multi modal trail that will extend from the Johnson St. Bridge in
downtown Victoria to Humpback Road in Langford.
"Investing in public transit supports a more vibrant community. It also
gives residents the option to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint," said
Mayor Amos. "This funding will purchase high capacity buses to be used along
busy transit routes for the future regional busway fleet."
The total cost of the new buses will be $12.8 million, with BC Transit
providing the remainder of funds.
"This significant fleet expansion is a great step to improving the
transit system," said Denise Blackwell, CRD Chair. "An efficient and
convenient transit system in the capital region will enhance the quality of
life for residents and respond to the serious challenges of climate change."
Funding from the Gas Tax Fund is available to local governments for
infrastructure projects that contribute to national environmental outcomes of
cleaner air, cleaner water or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The
Gas Tax Fund is administered in BC by UBCM.
Recently, the Government of Canada and British Columbia signed a
Framework Agreement, under Building Canada, the government's new long-term
infrastructure plan. Under the Agreement, over $1 billion has been set aside
for projects in British Columbia through the Building Canada Fund component of
the plan. The Framework Agreement also confirms that the Province of British
Columbia will receive $25 million in base funding annually, for a total of
$175 million through to 2014. Just under $1.5 billion will flow to British
Columbia municipalities through the Gas Tax Fund between 2007 and 2014.
Overall, the total federal commitment to British Columbia is $2.7 billion over
seven years under Building Canada.
For more information on the Canada - BC - UBCM Gas Tax Agreement, visit
www.civicnet.bc.ca or www.infc.gc.ca
For more information on the Canada - British Columbia Building Canada
Infrastructure Framework Agreement, visit www.buildingcanada.gc.ca
For further information:
For further information: Media Contacts: Karine White, Press Secretary,
Office of the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure And Communities, (613)
948-1148; Marc Black, Communications Manager, Ministry of Community Services,
(250) 356-2938; Paul Taylor, Relationships and Communications Advisor, Union
of BC Municipalities, (250) 356-2938; Anita Wasiuta, BC Transit, (250)
995-5613; Kelly Daniels, Chief Administrative Officer, Capital Regional
District, (250) 478-3344