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Improved transportation being planned by qathet/Sunshine Coast regional districts

Request made to involve BC Transit as part of working group
Transportation, Powell River
Getty image.

qathet Regional District (qRD) is requesting involvement by BC Transit in a Sunshine Coast transit working group.

At the November 26 regional board meeting, city director CaroleAnn Leishman said she began a podcast just after the COVID-19 lockdown because she couldn’t meet with concerned residents about issues. One of the topics involved interviewing a local resident who relies on transit heavily for all of her needs. 

Leishman said that afterward, she received an email from Rob Ringma, the senior manager for government relations for BC Transit, who listened to the podcast and wanted to chat about her concerns about transit service and what improvements her guest and she felt were needed.

Leishman said she had an hour-long conversation with Ringma and it was “fantastic.”

“He was so helpful and willing to work with us at both the regional district and the city, bringing forward transit improvements,” said Leishman. “I told him about the joint meeting with the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) and he offered to be a part of the working group discussions.

“He said BC Transit is here for you and we want to offer you all of our help and support to cost out what that would look like. There are a couple of different types of governance structures that we could choose.”

Leishman asked if Ringma would be okay with her putting forward a motion at the regional board meeting for sending a letter to BC Transit, formally inviting the crown corporation to participate in a working group. She said Ringma indicated that would be the best way to go forward because they do have a planning division. He could take a letter from the regional board about the working group to the planning department, to his boss and say this is happening in qRD, and they are going to be working with the SCRD, according to Leishman.

Leishman moved that the board write a letter of invitation to BC Transit to engage its expertise in expanding public transit service relative to investigating a multi-jurisdictional regional transit service, including, but not limited to, capital costing, human resources, maintenance and repairs, route scheduling and funding, and exploring different governance models to assist the efforts of the forthcoming joint qathet and Sunshine Coast regional districts’ transit working group.

City director George Doubt said he thinks it’s all pretty exciting. Doubt said he had previously spoken with Ringma at the Union of BC Municipalities convention and Ringma had indicated he was excited about thinking of going ahead with some kind of regional transit project if enough local government people were onside.

“We got a successful buy-in, I think, from the Sunshine Coast,” said Doubt. “I look forward to an opportunity to meet with hegus John Hackett from the Tla’amin Nation to see if we can get them on board. The only thing I would add is we might want to send a very similar letter to BC Ferries.”

Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said it is relevant that Ringma be involved because he is the one who makes things happen at BC Transit.

“It’s really important to the success of this working group that BC Transit be a member of it,” said McCormick.

Leishman’s motion carried.

Electoral Area A director and board chair Patrick Brabazon said he thought Doubt’s idea of approaching BC Ferries is a good one but he suggested that be put in abeyance for the moment. He said the regional district has dealt with BC Ferries before but he wouldn’t want to jump the gun.