Off the rails?

Regional District of Nanaimo director wants a drop-dead date for the Island Corridor Foundation

The dream of restoring rail service to Vancouver Island may be inspirational, but at some point people need to stop dreaming and get serious about making something happen, says Dave Willie.

The Qualicum Beach director for the Regional District of Nanaimo,  says there needs to be some form of “drop-dead” date for the current proposal. In an interview this week, Willie said that while all the money requested by the Island Corridor Foundation to restore the track for service has been obtained, the regional district’s portion — $945,000 — is slated to remain in a trust fund and will only become available when VIA Rail resumes service.

Willie suggested that rather than expanding passenger service to leave from Nanaimo in the morning, a lack of funding could result in service being returned to the same schedule it had prior to the railway shutting down.

“I think there would be a lot of disappointed folks that voted on that if they return to the time table that is not the one proposed to be part of the agreement,” Willie sai, noting he wants to protect the $15 million in federal and provincial funding for the corridor, whether or not the railway resumes service. Because of this, he said a “drop-dead” date is needed on the current proposal, he said, so planners can move on to other possibilities.

Rather than running a rail service, Willie suggested the corridor could be used in different ways.

“There is tremendous value in the corridor, but I’m not sure if it is in rail service,” he said. “The ICF is not the Island Corridor Railway Foundation. The idea was to keep the corridor in place. The money could be put in trust and shared to turn that corridor into some other economic benefit for the Island and for residents of the Island. It could be different in each regional district, but they would each maintain the corridor.”

Willie noted the Town of Qualicum Beach pays about $1,200 every month for operation of rail crossings.

“They are not being used,” he said. “How long are we going to continue this on for?”

However, ICF general manager Graham Bruce said he remains confident the rail corridor will host regularly scheduled passenger service, despite the cuts to VIA’s subsidy.

“I don’t see it impacting us,” he said. “We also had a memo that showed that through the new Canada Works plan, there’s $50 million allocated for operations on remote runs — and on the Island we would classify as part of that, even though we don’t see ourselves as remote. As well, there’s another $58 million over five years allocated for capital improvements for short line commuter transit and rail lines.”

Bruce dismissed concerns about VIA service returning to the old schedule.

“The whole point of this is for an improved service,” he said. “That’s what we’re working on. We are in discussions with VIA to bring the train service agreement to completion and … I’m fairly confident we will get what we are trying to achieve.”

 

 

Just Posted

ELECTION 2019: NDP’s Gord Johns re-elected in Courtenay-Alberni

Conservative Byron Horner finishes second, with Green Party’s Sean Wood third

Trudeau has won the most seats — but not a majority. What happens next?

Trudeau will have to deal with some of the implications of Monday’s result

LIVE MAP: Results in Canada’s 2019 federal election

Polls are now closed across the country

ELECTION 2019: Here are the results from our 12 B.C. races to watch

Incumbents mostly won our 12 key races, but there were a few upsets too

Scheer says Canada more divided than ever, as NDP and Bloc hold cards close

While Liberals were shut out of two key prairie provinces, they took two-thirds of the seats in Ontario

Horvat’s hat trick lifts Canucks to 5-2 win over Red Wings

First career three-goal game for Vancouver captain

Runners brave wet, windy weather for Ucluelet’s 20th Edge to Edge

“The spirit of the runners I have nothing but compliments.”

Saanich Gulf-Islands’s Elizabeth May coy about leadership plans

The federal Green party leader talks possibility of running as MP without being leader

Estheticians can’t be forced to wax male genitals, B.C. tribunal rules

Langley transgender woman Jessica Yaniv was ordered to pay three salon owners $2,000 each

Two youth arrested in UBC carjacking at gunpoint, after being spotted in stolen Kia

‘A great deal of credit is due the alert person who called us,’ said North Vancouver Sgt. Peter DeVries

People’s Party of Canada’s anti-immigration views ‘didn’t resonate’ with voters: prof

Party was formed on anti-immigration, climate denying views in 2018

Windstorm knocks out power for 10,000 in north and central B.C.

Power slowly being restored, BC Hydro says

Investor alert: ‘Split games’ pyramid scheme circulating in B.C.

British Columbia Securities Commission issues warning about scheme selling virtual shares

Most Read