It borders on taxation without representation.
It’s also another indicator the Island Corridor Foundation has fallen off the rails and has become an expensive irrelevancy in communities north of Nanaimo.
The ICF owns the former rail corridor up and down Vancouver Island. The Regional District of Nanaimo is one the ICF’s owners, for lack of a better term. The ICF is trying to fix the line so it can re-start passenger rail service. To that end, it issued a cash call to its owners.
The RDN kicked in just under $1 million of taxpayer money. This despite votes against the expenditure from representatives of Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Errington, Coombs, Whiskey Creek, Bowser, Deep Bay and environs.
Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay is now the RDN’s rep on the ICF board. Naturally and logically, he supports the ICF and re-start of the rail service, seeing as he has a fancy train station in his city and the possibility of jobs in a maintenance facility.
So, he will continue to pledge the RDN’s support for this ICF folly, and to heck with what the reps of roughly 30,000 taxpayers say north of his city.
However, days into their happy little ICF board relationship, McKay and CEO Graham Bruce are providing mixed messages. Bruce says the railway can be put in working order with $20 million. McKay doesn’t believe that’s possible and calls the $20 million a “foundation,” which to us means more cash calls are on the way.
Meanwhile, the ICF seems to be focused on things other than the railway. When it last hit our news pages, the ICF was suing Coombs/Errington RDN rep Julian Fell.
The relationship between the people north of Nanaimo and the RDN is fractured. The appointment of McKay to the ICF is yet another indication the RDN doesn’t give a hoot about the people of Bowser or Qualicum Beach or Parksville, except when it’s time to collect their money. Dog attacks, potholes, flooding — the RDN really isn’t interested in fixing the things that matter in Errington or Coombs or Martindale Road.
As for the ICF, a local politician we spoke with this week said it best:
“It’s a lost cause.”
— Editorial by John Harding