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Concerns continue to mount about Island rail corridor

Qualicum Beach council passes motion asking RDN to look at uses other than rail for corridor

Qualicum Beach Coun. Dave Willie continues to express his doubts there will ever be a passenger train once again riding the rails of Vancouver Island.

To that end, Willie asked his fellow councillors Monday night to support a motion calling on the Regional District of Nanaimo to look at alternatives, other than rail, for the corridor, and to find ways to keep and use the $15 million that has been set aside by senior levels of government for the rail project.

Willie is Qualicum Beach's representative on the RDN board. Before the vote Monday night that passed his motion, Willie raised concerns about the financial heath of the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF), the organization that owns the railbed and is in negotiations with VIA Rail to get the service up and running once again.

"There are some serious financial issues in regards to the ICF," said Willie, who said the ICF is "months and months behind" in its financial-statement reporting to the RDN.

Willie also said he had "serious concerns" about possible changes to the structure of the ICF at this time.

"I think the structure of the board is part of the problem," said Willie, adding that he would not like to see changes to the ICF that "further disenfranchise the regional districts."

A VIA Rail spokesperson recently told The NEWS negotiations with the ICF continue, but he was clear VIA still has concerns about the safety of the corridor, condition of the track/bridges and the lack of facilities (stations, maintenance buildings) in Victoria for any revived rail service.

Calls to the ICF asking for comment from chief executive officer Graham Bruce have not been returned.