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EDITORIAL: Not convinced about rail and French Creek reek

We're still not convinced locals will be able to hop on a train and head to Victoria any time soon.

In a story on our front page today, Southern Rail president Frank Butzelaar talks about the return of passenger service to Parksville Qualicum Beach, but details are scarce. He also talks about how the work on the track will start in Victoria, work its way north and when the work is complete to Nanaimo, the train will roll again between those two cities.

When we pressed him on service to and from Parksville and Qualicum Beach, Butzelaar had no details or timelines or schedules. On one hand, he boldly stated passenger rail service up to Courtenay will "absolutely" happen. On the other hand, he told us service to Qualicum Beach and Parksville will be based on demand.

We're not sure what that means. We suspect the entire focus of the Island Corridor Foundation and its operator Southern Rail has been centred on the Victoria to Nanaimo portion of the line.

It would be nice if the ICF would be honest about this, but we can't expect transparency from a non-profit society that closes its annual general meeting to the public and media.

The Regional District of Nanaimo's board of directors should not release one penny of the roughly $900,000 it has pledged to the ICF until it gets start dates and schedules related to passenger rail service to and from Parksville and Qualicum Beach.

• Those who sit in the RDN offices in Nanaimo can blame the herring all they like — we suspect, like many others who have called us this week, the smell around French Creek this week has nothing to do with fish.

More than a week ago, the RDN issued a news release about the rancid smell around French Creek. Staff said it was related to the natural cycle of the herring spawn — eggs washing up and rotting on shore.

That may have been true a week or two ago, but it's not the case this week. Locals know the difference between the smell of herring eggs and sewage. The rancid, gag-inducing odour this week must be related to sewage.

In fact, there are many weeks during the year the beautiful area around the creek and the marina smells downright awful. It's time the RDN addressed this in a realistic and forthright manner.

— Editorial by John Harding

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