Rail corridor being held for the public
It is understood by the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) that neither councils of Parksville nor Qualicum are in favour of maintaining rail on Vancouver Island.
It should be noted for your readers that neither council has recently asked the ICF to attend a council meeting nor have they written the ICF seeking information.
In April at the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities annual meeting held at Sooke, both councils along with all local governments that the railway passes through were invited to attend a briefing.
Parksville did not attend but the Mayor of Qualicum did. There was a very thorough update and discussion about the rail operations, VIA negotiations and trail construction along the corridor as well as the business of the ICF.
Extensive trail construction has already occurred with more being planned or under construction.
Freight trains are still active on the tracks requiring regular inspection and maintenance of the tracks and crossings. This work is undertaken by the ICF rail operator Southern Rail of Vancouver Island.
Rail infrastructure funding for track and trestle upgrades has been committed by the federal, provincial and regional governments. Parksville and Qualicum regional representatives voted against the funding. This funding may not be used for any other purpose.
The funding is contingent on a new train service agreement with VIA Rail to provide passenger service. VIA Rail wants to hold to the old service while the ICF through its rail operator is negotiating for an improved service. The ICF wishes to conclude the negotiations by the end of August.
The ICF was formed to hold the rail corridor in perpetuity for the people of Vancouver Island and to protect it from special interests who may wish for the corridor to be divided up and sold. The two principle objectives are to improve rail and build trails.
The 12 member ICF Board meets regularly. The membership of the ICF is five regional districts and 14 First Nations. The membership elects the directors at the Annual General Meeting in April. More information about the ICF can be found at www.islandrail.ca.
Mary Ashley & Judith Sayers
Island Corridor Foundation