EDITORIAL: End the charade

Does anyone really believe there is going to be passenger rail service on Vancouver Island?

As we flip another page on the calendar and a new year is upon us, some things don’t change.

There is still no rail service on Vancouver Island and no realistic chance it will happen any time soon.

In July of 2014 — that’s right, 2014 — the Regional District of Nanaimo’s board of directors voted to give the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) $1 million in taxpayer funds for the restoration of a service that was shut down for safety concerns in 2011. That vote was contentious and won by the weight of the Nanaimo councillors who sit on that board.

The ICF’s Graham Bruce has consistently said money ($20 million in total) from the regional districts of the Island, with matching funds from the provincial and federal governments (your money again, just from different sources) would be enough to fix the rail line and have it in shape to re-start passenger service from Courtenay to Victoria.

Despite hollow, worth-little comments from B.C.’s transportation minister, the ICF still has not received the funds from the province or the feds and as far as we can tell, hasn’t replaced one rotted rail tie. Oh, never mind the bridges like the one over French Creek, they will be fine, we are told.

The ICF held a news conference in April of 2014 at Nanaimo’s railway station announcing an agreement with Southern Rail. Apparently, when it comes to actual rail service, that agreement and $2 will get you a cup of coffee. Back on that sunny photo-opp day at the train station in April of 2014, then-RDN chairman and French Creek representative Joe Stanhope was asked if he thought $20 million was enough to re-start passenger rail service on the Island. “I think the infrastructure deficit is a little more than that . . . I think $100 million,” said Stanhope.

What has the ICF done since it secured a million bucks from the taxpayers of the RDN? Well, it certainly hasn’t cut the ribbon on the first train ride. In fact, the only thing of substance the ICF has seemingly done since 2014 is sue the Errington/Coombs director on the RDN board, Julian Fell.

New RDN chair Bill Veenhof (Bowser/Deep Bay/Qualicum Bay) voted against giving the ICF the $1 million in RDN taxpayer money. He has a real chance in the new year to put an end to this charade by demanding some real answers from the ICF and senior governments. The RDN can then take that $1 million and do something real with it, like housing initiatives for seniors and the homeless from Cedar to Deep Bay.

— Editorial by John Harding

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach council considers rainbow crosswalk

New councillor says motion a response to students asking that pride symbol have a place in town

Stolen carousel horse found in ditch, returned to Parksville resort owner

Christmas decoration was stolen from Sunrise Ridge Resort on Nov. 28

SOS: Coming together to make Christmas brighter

Group hopes to reach monetary goal of $110,000

Parksville thieves make off with machetes inside stolen cube van

Crime report: Vandals in Qualicum Beach spread feces all over business bathroom

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Canadian detained in China, not clear if related to two other detentions

Reports suggest the person is not a diplomat or entrepreneur doing business in China.

Trudeau sees 2019 election as choice between positive Liberals, divisive Tories

Trudeau is drawing much the same battle lines that propelled the Liberals to a come-from-behind victory in 2015

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla, Highway 3

Make sure to equip winter tires if travelling

Lightning top Canucks 5-2 in feisty battle

NHL’s No. 1 team too much for Vancouver

Bear cubs try to take Vancouver Island woman’s Christmas cookies

Incident happened in the early-morning hours today, Dec. 18, in Nanaimo

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

Most Read