Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay will serve as the new Regional District of Nanaimo representative on the ICF board.

Nanaimo mayor doesn’t believe $20 million is enough to re-instate rail service

Bill McKay is the Regional District of Nanaimo's new representative on the Island Corridor Foundation board

Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay confirmed he will replace regional district director Julian Fell as the RDN’s representative on the Island Corridor Foundation board.

“I’m keen to see what opportunities are there with the E&N corridor including commercial and business opportunities,” McKay told The NEWS Thursday.

McKay will need approval from the ICF before formally taking on the role.

He replaces regional district director Julian Fell — whose nomination was still pending and never actually approved by the ICF.

The ICF confirmed earlier this month that the organization filed a defamation suit against Fell who allegedly “made serious defamatory comments about the ICF.”

Regional district chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson said the legal action of the ICF creates an “untenable” situation with respect to Fell sitting on the ICF board.

However, Thorkelsson said it’s important to remember that Fell was only the RDN’s “interim replacement” on the ICF board, as their former representative Nanaimo Coun. Ted Greves stepped down last summer.

Since then, the ICF board has not had representation from anybody in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.

As for McKay, his stance on reinstating the railway seems twofold.

“I come from Vancouver and I can tell you there are a lot of corridors in the Lower Mainland that people are kicking themselves that they tore up and didn’t take advantage of those opportunities when they were presented,” he said.

“Having said that, as we see in Vancouver they are trying to pick up the Arbutus Corridor, there are a lot of places they wish they didn’t take the rail up in the first place.”

McKay said he doesn’t believe $20 million will be enough to reinstate the railway, but he thinks it will be enough to “create a foundation to build on.”

He said “if you’re going to build a house, you need a foundation.”

McKay said he’s concerned with the ICF’s communication, or lack thereof, with stakeholders.

“That’s one of the biggest challenges, making sure we’re communicating messages … you sometimes forget while all the people at the table know what’s going on some important stakeholders need to be brought up to speed.”

McKay promised “should I sit on the board I’ll be pushing for contact communication with stakeholders.”

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