EDITORIAL: Current ICF has run out of track

A new direction with rail experts at the forefront is what's needed if train service will be re-started on Vancouver Island

The chief executive officer does not return our phone calls.

The chair of the board is a well-known former mayor of Campbell River, which seems odd considering the foundation she chairs owns a rail line that ends in Courtenay.

One of the regional districts that funds the foundation has “lost confidence in the existing administrative function” of the organization.

It seems clear the Island Corridor Foundation, in its current form, with its current administration and board, has run its course. If rail service up and down Vancouver Island is to ever happen again, it’s not going to be through this model of governance.

We do not enjoy writing the line “did not respond to calls for comment” in our stories. We want any and all sides to have a say in our news stories. The last three calls we made to the ICF and its CEO Graham Bruce were ignored. The calls were from three different reporters, no less.

Whether we have been jilted by Bruce or not is hardly the issue, however. As Parksville Mayor Chris Burger and others have said, it’s about re-starting rail service on the Island for the movement of people and freight, a key to the growth of the Island’s economy.

There hasn’t been a train on the tracks since 2011, but the ICF had no problem spending $337,000 in 2013 (according to its budget document on its website) on salaries, administration, board expenses and travel.

Nice work if you can get it.

It’s time to dismiss the ICF board and its CEO and focus on getting the railway up and running. It’s time to move past personalities, cut ties and start anew.

A motion the Regional District of Nanaimo board of directors is now considering heads in the right direction. It is calling for a meeting of all the relevant First Nations and regional districts to discuss the future of the ICF. The motion also calls for the formation of a task force of “experienced individuals to assist in reinvigorating the ICF.”

We hope “experienced individuals” means those familiar with rail lines, bridges and trails — not lobbyists and former politicians.

— Editorial by John Harding

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