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Directors want 'full disclosure' re: ICF

RDN director Dave Willie said the $20 million the Island Corridor Foundation is requesting from local, provincial and federal governments will be “a drop in the bucket.”

“We (regional district directors) know the $20 million will not be enough to restore rail service,” said Willie, a Qualicum Beach town councillor. “Reports done for the ICF indicate it will cost more than $160 million over the next ten years.”

Willie said he felt frustrated with the ICF’s ambiguity and lack of planning.

Willie said he was under the impression that ICF’s plan to restore rail service would run passenger trains through Parksville Qualicum Beach on a daily basis.

But at a meeting between Parksville and Qualicum Beach municipal leaders and officials from ICF last month, Willie said it was revealed that service would run between Nanaimo and Victoria daily and would only go north of Nanaimo — to Parksville Qualicum Beach — on weekends.

“That was news to all of us,” said Willie. “We expected the service would at least return to the level it was at before it stopped operating.”

Willie said the provincial and federal government have each earmarked $7.5 million for the project which is currently “sitting in limbo” with the RDN’s $900,000 contribution.

Willie said local government officials requested another meeting with ICF, but “were told that wouldn’t be possible until Southern Rail and VIA Rail are finished negotiations.”

“We want full disclosure and approval from the ICF membership in negotiations,” said Willie, who is calling for a more open relationship with ICF. “Otherwise, what’s the point of negotiating?”

Willie said the regional district has passed on concerns to the provincial government expressing their expectations. “In terms of negotiations, we need to move the goal posts rather than just the schedule.”

Officials from the Island Corridor Foundation did not respond to calls asking for comment on this story.

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