March 4 - The streetcars of Victoria

Intercity bus returns. New pinball pizzeria. Sooke downtown densifies.

Good morning !

When the sunlight starts to return, the tourist and travel seasons are not far behind. We have two main stories today that look at the past and future of getting around the region.


Have you ever ridden on an intercity bus service on the Island?

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Today’s approx. read time: 4 minutes

🌡️ Weather Forecast

Today:  6 / 0

Tuesday: ☀️ 6 / 0

Wednesday:  7 / -1


Victoria’s long-lost streetcars, and what they say about current transit

The last Victoria streetcar trip, in 1948. BC Archives.

A recently shared historical photo is going around local social media; it shows a trolley heading through downtown Victoria. Victoria is known for its early adoption of double-decker buses, but not all locals know about the rich variety of transit that came before.

A century ago, the system carried nearly 30,000 people—out of Victoria’s 56,000 residents at the time—each day. Eight different routes covered communities including Oak Bay, James Bay, Saanich, and Esquimalt.

Loooking at the South Island’s transit past may be more relevant than ever as conversations ramp up about its future. Intercity transit, the possible resurrection of the railway, a proposal for Westshore LRT service, and more CRD-level transit planning are all on the table.

We told the story of the streetcars back in 2021—but with the topic hot again, here is that story. 

⚠️ Capital Bulletin

Sunday snow hits mid- and east Island. Per the province, those conditions may continue into today.

Rain returns to Victoria area later this week.

Driving today? Check the current traffic situation via Google.


Suspended Tofino bus service will resume by Easter

Photo: Wilson's Group

The intercity travel service connecting Victoria, Tofino, Ucluelet, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, and Parksville will be back in just over three weeks. Two 56-seat buses start running Mar. 29. Vic-to-Tofino routes will run Thu. to Sun. in the spring and summer, with return routes Fri. to Mon.

The return was announced by owner Wilson’s Group, which shifted the Tofino Bus and Vancouver Island Connector (Nanaimo to Campbell River) to seasonal service last winter, citing pandemic revenue loss.

CEO John Wilson is now once again publicly seeking more government funding, arguing that with supplier prices rising the company can only afford to run lucrative peak-season routes. The company got a one-time pandemic grant in 2021 to keep service running, but in late 2022 suspended service temporarily and cut the airport shuttle permanently.

Intercity travel report 

This fall 2023 report, resulting from consultation around the Island and along the BC coast, found there was a widespread frustration with the lack of safe and reliable intercity transit.

Read more on the specifics of last year's consultation at Capital Daily


Wonderful healthcare for families is here 

Imagine a new kind of healthcare experience. Warm, welcoming, and designed for families. A person on the other end of the line when you have a question. And a specialized team with big hearts and big brains. Sprout is focused on prevention and longevity, not just reactive illness care.

Sprout’s health navigator is your guide (and a registered nurse on speed dial). The Nurse Practitioners concentrate on proactive care. And their physical, functional, and mental health specialists will support you and your family to thrive.

In-person, over the phone, or virtual appointments that are never rushed. Extras like developmental milestone checks and an annual Dexa body composition scan. It’s wonderful care for families.

⭐️ Capital Picks

🤩  A fuzzy bee on a fuzzy leaf? Nope—it’s actually an imposter.

🥃 That’s the spirit: Island distilleries add even more national drink awards. [Tasting Victoria]

🎙️Today on local community radio: check out the programs on campus station CFUV.

What’s your favourite restaurant in the city? Voting is now open for the 2024 Tasting Victoria Best Restaurant Awards. Vote now. 

🤝 Now hiring: Membership and operations coordinator at The Narwhal.

🗞️ In Other News

Pinball pizzeria comes to Chinatown
Pinhalla, a spinoff of Quazar’s, will have themed machines from Star Trek to classic Pac-Man and will welcome back pinball league play on Wednesdays. [Tasting Victoria]

Langford turns down Sarah Beckett Run grant: late application
The annual 5K family run for Beckett—a West Shore RCMP officer killed on duty by a drunk driver in 2016—is on May 12. Organizers filed the grant application late but tried to still get $2,500 to pass along to other charities that were important to Beckett. But re-granting funds like that is against city policy. In the end, the province stepped in with the $2,500. [CHEK]

Sooke approves four-storey as downtown core densifies
Council supported a 35-rental, ground-commercial project that Coun. Jeff Bateman said “could be a landmark example for the future of the downtown core.” [The Westshore]

🗓️ Things to do

🎸 Take It To The Limit: Canadian musicians come together to perform a tribute to The Eagles at McPherson Playhouse. Today. 7:30pm.

🎵 Ukulele Stumalong: Grab your ukulele and take part in an evening of music at The Fernwood Inn. Today. 7-9pm.

🎥 The Taste of Things: The romance drama about a gourmand and his cook will be shown at The Vic Theatre. Today. 7:30pm.

👀 In Case You Missed It

Watch a rare red seaplane land in the harbour.

How underwater noise may be affecting Juan de Fuca sea creatures. [The Westshore]

Arrests in “grandparent scam”: Saanich police say Quebec duo detained at YVR tricked locals out of $20k. [Global News]

Black History Month finale: Here's the story of how a pair of shoes kickstarted Victoria's Black history.

Sat. news: 39 Islanders die from toxic drugs; 4 killed by vehicles; News from the sea. [Mar. 2]

Pacific FC launches new Trident jersey with video starring a range of locals.

That’s it!

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