Thursday, August 05, 2010

That Bridge, Once More

Old pic I found online
The City has extended their deadline for comments about the bridge to August 10th.   I would submit something except for I am really neutral on the options offered and only really care about the final price of the bridge.  

My overarching concern is how will the City get cost certainty for the project and what will the City do to ensure there is no extra burden to the public.

My other major concern is that this is a very big capital project for the City and there is offer of any real financial support from the other local governments in the region.   Admittedly places like Saanich are cheap and can not even be bothered to build sidewalks to make the city more walkable.   If they are not even willing to do the basics in their own neighbourhoods, then why would anyone expect them to take responsibility for anything on the regional level.

Maybe the City of Victoria could use the bridge as a tool to push amalgamation?   The bridge is of huge benefit to Esquimalt and quite crucial to View Royal.   Maybe the quid pro quo is that the bridge gets overhauled or newly built if those two municipalities join Victoria?  Victoria needs to make it clear that the City can live without the bridge if it has to, take a hardline position and see who blinks.

The City has done a good job by taking the rail off of the table and seeing if anyone will come forward.  So far no one has to clearly the Westshore municipalities do not support the E&N rail line as a commuter line.

It bothers me that this bridge is going to delay the redevelopment of Crystal Pool.   I also expect the City to use this expense as a reason to continue reneging on providing a replacement park for the Ellice Street Park.   It has been several years since they said they would replace it.    They also promised a Maddock to Cecelia Ravine park to connect the area in the last OCP.   I can hear the refrain coming "We are broke and therefore we can not buy the parkland"

The bottomline for me to vote in favour of borrowing money:

  • Cost certainty with a hard limit on the project
  • A commitment of at least 15% of the cost to come from Esquimalt and a further 15% from the rest of the region.

If these two things are not achieved, then I have no reason to vote for the bridge.  Certainly the bridge offers me nothing.   I am willing to pay for something that does not benefit me if the people that benefit pay as well and are actually on the hook for any cost overruns or problems.

If the bridge is not replaced we would manage to live without it being there.   Traffic patterns would change, but there would be no major long term problems.   Yes, traffic would suck in some areas, but it would still not be as bad as many locations in Metro Vancouver.  Not building the bridge may hard some retail business, but it will leave me better off.   Building the bridge is a transfer of money from me to retail businesses and commuters.
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