Editorial: Malahat alternative already there, they just need an upgrade

We don’t think the solution lies necessarily in any one thing.

As of Wednesday morning, the Malahat highway between the Cowichan Valley and Victoria had been completely or partly shut down three times this week.

With about 22,000 vehicles a day depending on the mountain pass to either get to or get out of Victoria, and no convenient alternative routes available, there’s an obvious problem.

The Pacific Marine Circle Route can take traffic from Sooke to Lake Cowichan and back down to Highway 1, but it is long, rough and circuitous. If one wants to spend hours on a scenic trip through remote territory it can be great, but a commuter route it is not.

The ferry that runs from Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay is far too small to accommodate even a fraction of the daily Malahat traffic. And the ferry itself is old and relatively slow.

We don’t think the solution lies necessarily in any one thing.

The E&N rail corridor, now unused due to long-term neglect, then foot-dragging by senior governments, beams out like a giant neon sign every time the Malahat is closed. It will not be cheap to get the rail corridor back up and running, but it is well worth it as we look to the future of Vancouver Island as a whole, the need for green public transportation and a growing population base that lives — oh, look — right along the E&N corridor. Opponents argue that you will never get people out of their cars and onto a train in enough numbers to make it viable. We point to the highly successful commuter buses from Duncan to Victoria, about which the same people made the same argument. There’s something to “if you build it, they will come”.

The government should also seriously consider upgrading the Mill Bay-Brentwood Bay ferry to a bigger, faster boat that can take more traffic. They can then promote it not only to commuters, but to tourists.

Both of these ideas work with existing infrastructure. It would have to have money put into it, but whatever Malahat alternative is eventually decided on is not going to be cheap.

Just Posted

Kerry Park’s new goalie is perfect in VIJHL debut

Charles-Olivier Lepage shuts out high-powered Storm

Longtime resident and business owner Garry Bruce running for Duncan city council

I have been a resident in the City of Duncan for more than 60 years

Double heartbreak for Cowichan Capitals at BCHL Showcase

Caps edged in OT one night, give up winner with 4.5 seconds left the next day

Alison Nicholson is ‘committed to community’ in bid for re-election to Area E

Mission is to work with you to build community where there is an opportunity for everyone to prosper

Penelakut Tribe threatens legal action on freighters

Lack of consultation cited by Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP MacGregor

VIDEO: Tour de Rock rider says event provides badly needed support

Cancer survivor and volunteer firefighter Nicole Emery speaks about importance of fundraising tour

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Island man calls 911 after being robbed of his drugs

Nineteen-year-old and 15-year-old suspects face multiple charges following robbery Monday in Nanaimo

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

Most Read