Rail bad idea, but trail has a future

Kudos to Tony Markle whose letter (Rail, trail both bad ideas for E&N corridor, June 6) presented clear facts as to why rail service is impractical for the Island, although I have to disagree that it would be the last choice for walking, hiking or cycling. Certainly not for me, not my walking and cycling friends, nor the many visitors and foreign travelers who spend large amounts of money on food and accommodation in extended vacations seeking outdoor activities and unique experiences.

While travelling by train all you may see is trees and brush, a slower mode of travel gives a much different perspective of small settlements, trestles over rivers and glimpses of the Ocean and Islands.

For example, the section of corridor between Parksville and Port Alberni is an adventure traveller’s and tour operator’s dream. Leaving Parksville travellers first encounter “Goats on the Roof” a well-publicized, must stop for all travellers. Next they’d be able to take in the the spectacular waterfalls at Little Qualicum Falls Provincial Park, followed by the wooden trestles overlooking Cameron Lake.

At the end of Cameron Lake, the corridor passes by Cathedral Grove, demonstrating some of our best preserved old-growth forest in the province before reaching the summit and descending into the Alberni Valley and beautiful vistas of the Alberni canal. Upon entering Port Alberni they will encounter the McLean Steam Mill followed by the Port Alberni railroad station with the old steam train ride.

This opens up the possibility of a continued excursion, boating down the beautiful Alberni Canal to Ucluelet on the Francis Barkley then continuing with a West Coast experience travelling beside Long Beach to Tofino. I believe the small cost put out to maintain a trail would be returned many-fold by the tourist dollar and other non-rail income, such as utility right-of-way leases.

Les Andersen

Parksville