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Transport at top of AVICC concern list

Municipalities united in call for transport options

There were interesting decisions at the recent Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) conference in Sydney, according to Parksville’s acting mayor Chris Burger.

One of the major topics was the economic viability of agriculture on Vancouver Island, which he said has been an important topic in the Parksville area.

The association of municipalities and districts from the Island and Sunshine Coast passed an emergency resolution calling on senior governments to help the Island Corridor Foundation which recently stopped passenger rail service due to $15 million in safety requirements.

At the April 18 city council meeting after the regional conference, councillors spoke of the importance of the rail line to the future of communities like Parksville on the Island.

“This provides tremendous opportunities in the long term and it’s a major issue right now,” Burger told The News.

Councillor Marc Lefebvre said with the price of gas going up, and the extraordinary cost of building four lane highways, the rail line really should be a priority of the provincial and federal governments.

Burger said there was consensus on a number of issues, since all the communities in the organization have so much in common, such as being dependent upon ferries.

He said all the communities are in ongoing discussions with BC Ferries and various levels of government about the ongoing rate increases.

They also talked about things like local government protection of their watersheds, passing a Cowichan Valley resolution similar to one Parksville forwarded last year dealing with privately managed forest land and riparian areas along waterways.

Resolutions from the conference will be forwarded to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver in September.