Anderson withdraws transit increase motion due to lack of support

George Anderson will not be pursuing expanded transit service within the City of Nanaimo, at least for the time being.

The Nanaimo city councillor and Regional District of Nanaimo director had planned to approach the regional district board, seeking to increase the the city's 2014 tax requisition by $175,000, which would've added 5,000 transit hours within the city, but pulled the motion off the table due to lack of support.

Amongst Anderson's reasons for the increase was students at Vancouver Island University being left behind due to overcrowded buses.

“I felt I had the support from my fellow members of the regional district board, who were councillors at the City of Nanaimo, but at the last minute I had members of council telling me that they were not supporting my motion anymore and that was the main reason of withdrawing the motion,” Anderson said.

Some councillors cited budgetary constraints while others stated they weren't prepared for transit expansion this year, according to Anderson.

Coun. Diane Brennan, chairwoman of the regional district transit select committee, said she wasn't against the motion but thought it would be prudent to delay it.

“I'm really interested in increasing the number of hours that we have, and in particular in servicing VIU,” Brennan said. “The problem is that we have invested a considerable amount of money this year, in 2014, into the compressed natural gas buses so with all the infrastructure plus the additional buses, etc., it was a significant bump in the budget and one of the three major causes for the increase to Nanaimo's share of the tax requisition.”

Brennan said when the numbers were crunched and it was discovered it would translate to an approximate one per cent increase in the City of Nanaimo's taxes, several Nanaimo councillors wanted to defer, with Brennan suggesting sometime in 2015 as a possible implementation date.

“I can't speak for the other councillors, I can just say for me, with the one per cent increase in Nanaimo's taxes already due to the RDN, and about a third of that being as a result of increase to the transit budget, I thought we had to wait,” she said.

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