About the SGI Transportation Service Referendum

    The Capital Regional District (CRD) will hold a referendum during the general election of October 15, 2022 to ask voters on Galiano, Mayne, Pender and Saturna Islands if they are in favour of establishing an integrated transportation service for the Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Area (SGI). 

    If approved, this service will provide funding and coordination to support community buses/public transportation initiatives, active transportation projects, and inter-island connections that have been, and would continue to be, led by local non-profit and other 3rd party organizations on the islands.


    Why is the CRD proposing this service?

    Island residents, organizations, and the SGI Community Economic Sustainability Commission (CESC), asked the CRD to create a transportation service and support the community bus and trail groups that provide transportation alternatives and advance community goals of sustainability, livability, and mobility. Over the past year, the CRD developed the SGI Transportation Integration Plan to guide the creation of a new service.

    What would an SGI Integrated Transportation Service do?

    If the service is approved, the CRD would establish a Transportation Commission made up of local island representatives to provide coordination for a transportation network that is integrated across different modes and different islands of the SGI. The Commission would oversee a grant program to fund community buses and local trail groups, and support other community solutions such as ride-hailing, ride-sharing and e-bike rebates. The CRD could apply for grants from other levels of government, hold land, and own infrastructure where needed. If a new service is created, CRD would have the option to own vehicles for lease by the community bus groups, and could hold licences for active transportation in the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Road Right of Way. The CRD would also be able to act as a sponsor to non-profits and other community organizations to apply for their own transportation grants from higher levels of government.

    How was the community consulted?

    The decision to ask SGI residents to vote in this referendum comes after a thorough community engagement process that received very high engagement per capita by industry standards. Led by WATT Consulting Group, a specialist transit, transportation planning and engineering firm, the public consultation process was guided by Transportation Advisory Groups, made up of community members and local transportation organizations, ensuring the proposal is rooted in local experience.

    What was heard during the community consultation process?

    Overall, the theme heard from the public and stakeholders was that there is a need to improve transportation options on the Southern Gulf Islands. This would support the SGI in addressing climate change as well as other community goals by: 

    • Providing sustainable alternatives to single occupancy vehicles and reducing car dependency.
    • Providing more affordable travel options for residents and low-income populations.
    • Better enabling all islanders, especially seniors and youth, to travel safely and independently.
    • Better connecting island communities.

    How will decisions be made?

    If a new transportation service is created, the SGI Transportation Commission would recommend service priorities and annual budgets to the CRD Board. These priorities would be implemented by staff and partner transportation groups. The Commission will have the latitude to shift service and budget priorities to best fit community needs and opportunities.          

    How would the Transportation Function be funded?

    The Transportation Integration Plan has identified potential partnerships and costed out options that meet a range of community needs, are economical, and are right-sized for the islands. Funding for the new service would come from a base level of tax revenue, income from user fees, and infrastructure grants from other levels of government. 

    How much will it cost the tax payer?

    If the service is approved by referendum and the CRD Board, the proposed budget for 2023 would raise approximately $475,000 from taxes. Based on the 2022 property assessments, this would cost $69/average household (or 9.68 for every $100,000 of assessed property value). 

    The maximum budget for the service would be the greater of $675,000 or $0.1414 per $1,000 of assessed property value (this is known as the “maximum requisition” and is set by the bylaw). Based on the 2022 property assessments, the service would cost $98/average household if the maximum were collected. See SGI TIP Scope and Cost Estimates for more information.

    How will the funding be used?

    • Grant programs to support local community bus societies towards delivering year-round service with paid drivers, and to support trail groups in offsetting the costs of materials, development, and/or maintenance of active transportation trails.
    • Targeted infrastructure such as bike racks, benches, bus stop signage, and dockside information.
    • Dedicated staff to manage the grants program, apply for external funding, support Commission project management, coordinate & manage permissions for road side trails, and to provide minute taking and administrative support for the Commission and its work program.
    • Convene partnerships to explore CRD support for more efficient inter-island travel.
    • Tools to support communications and information, on-line schedules, and coordinated trip-booking

    See SGI TIP Scope and Cost Estimates for more information.

    What is the referendum question?

    The referendum question for establishing a transportation service will be on the October 15 2022 General Election ballot, as follows:

    Are you in favour of the Capital Regional District (CRD) Board adopting Bylaw No. 4484, “Southern Gulf Islands Transportation Service Establishing Bylaw No. 1, 2022” authorizing the CRD to establish an integrated transportation service for the Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Area to raise a maximum annual requisition up to the greater of Six hundred and seventy five thousand dollars ($675,000) or $0.1414 per ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS ($1,000.00) of taxable land and improvements for the purpose of funding the operating costs of the service.
    YES or NO?

    Why can’t the CRD fund transportation in the SGI region with existing CRD funds?

    As a regional district, the CRD cannot cross fund services. In other words, it can’t use taxation or funding collected for one specified service to fund that in a different budget area—all funding must be spent within the service or budget area it was collected for. Today, the CRD does not have a transportation service function for SGI and therefore does not have the authority to fund or otherwise support transportation initiatives such as the community buses. Without establishing a transportation service, CRD cannot provide transportation funding to local operators or secure outside grants to support local transportation projects.

    What is Active Transportation?

    Any type of transportation that is human-powered. Most commonly referring to walking and cycling, it can also mean rolling using a wheelchair, scooter, skateboard, or inline skates.

    What is Public Transportation?

    Public transportation can take many forms in smaller and more rural communities and usually looks very different from the large buses seen operating transit in more urban communities.

    What is Water Transportation?

    Water based transportation is intended to complement existing BC Ferries service. Helping to connect the individual Southern Gulf Islands as a region, water transportation serves smaller docks that may include those operated by the CRD Southern Gulf Islands Harbour Commission or private marinas. These services typically operate using water taxis or passenger ferries that may operate using routes and schedules or on demand.

    Does this project include Salt Spring Island?

    This engagement process is regarding a potential new transportation service for the CRD to support better mobility in the Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Area, which is a separate Electoral Area from Salt Spring Island. With a new service, the CRD could provide funding for the community buses (public transit), facilitate improvements to active transportation networks (for walking, cycling and rolling), and integrate with opportunities for additional inter-island travel between the islands (beyond BC Ferries). Salt Spring Island has its own transportation service which provides a public transit and transportation system on the island. We recognize the important connections with surrounding areas and the survey is open to feedback from people travelling to and from other locations, including SSI. Should SGI also establish a transportation service, there would also be opportunities for partnerships between the two Electoral Areas.

    How is this Similar to the CRD Transportation Service on Salt Spring Island?

    In the neighbouring Salt Spring Island Electoral Area, there is a Transportation Commission that guides its public transportation and active transportation service. The CRD Board established a transportation service for Salt Spring Island in 2008 to contribute to BC Transit bus service. The Salt Spring Transportation Commission also partners with a local trail’s society to develop active transportation routes along the roadside.

    How is this project related to the Gulf Islands Regional Trails Project?

    The Gulf Islands Regional Trails Plan outlines a conceptual regional trail route on each of the islands.  The plan proposes a limited and phased approach for trail development and is dependent on the CRD seeking partnerships and grants to help fund development over time. The first priority is to construct an initial section of the Mayne Island Regional Trail,  currently underway.  A local SGI Transportation Commission could expand on this plan to serve local priorities for trail connections. 

    Can SGI Parks and Recreation Commissions pursue transportation trails?

    The mandate of the Parks Commissions is parks and recreation, not transportation. However, CRD community Parks and Recreation Commissions can manage and operate community trails as part of their recreation service. They are not able to provide integrated transportation services or fund community bus initiatives.