Better rail uses

Perhaps those at the ICF would like to look at a more viable alternative to resurrecting Robert Dunsmuir’s railroad.

  • Jan. 15, 2015 7:00 p.m.

Perhaps those at the ICF would like to look at a more viable alternative to the “once more with feeling” push for resurrecting Robert Dunsmuir’s railroad.

I imagine the current hue and cry for the return of the railroad sounds much like the fuss mounted by the buggy manufacturers at the inception of the automobile. This alarmism for something that may be “lost forever” has its source in fear, not in the optimistic embrace of relevant enterprise that reflects the current attitudes of a forward-looking and environmentally conscious society that we have today.

It seems to me that the economic benefits of a walking/cycling trail has not been adequately addressed here on the island. Consider La Route Verte (The Green Route) in the province of Quebec (http://www.routeverte.com/rv/home). It has over 4,000 km of cycling trails, the largest in North America, with a presence in over 28 different tourist regions including Montreal, Quebec City and the Eastern Townships. All along its extensive route are many B&B’s, hotels, and campgrounds certified under the Bienvenue Cyclistes program. Cyclists now come from all over the world to enjoy Quebec’s Velo-Tourism.

Does one really think that our idyllic, modestly populated island home is a candidate for mass transit, or high-speed commuter rail? With Greyhound Bus Lines cutting back its service in the recent past due to lack of ridership, what makes us think that the appetite persists for train ridership?

Imagine the same corridor, built for the out-moded, unprofitable railroad, re-purposed as a green route, beautiful Vancouver Island style. Let us allow dollars, instead, to flow naturally to those providing the spin-off services that will grow from the endeavour.

Craig DrummondQualicum Beach

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