EDITORIAL: No real representation on ICF board for Parksville Qualicum Beach residents

What good is having a rep if the rep won't participate ion discussions?

The taxpayers of the Parksville Qualicum Beach area effectively have no voice on the board of directors of the Island Corridor Foundation, despite promising the ICF $1 million.

The evidence supporting this theory came to light last week during the Regional District of Nanaimo’s board of directors meeting.

The RDN board was about to debate a motion that formally asked the ICF to release a consultant’s report on the effectiveness of the proposed repairs to what was historically called the E&N Railway.

Too many people, including many with experience and knowledge related to railway operation, have said there’s no way the ICF will be able to get passenger rail service up and running on the Island for $20 million. That’s what the ICF hopes to gather from regional districts and the provincial and federal governments. The ICF has a commitment for about a third of that funding, all from the five regional districts that are so-called partners in this venture.

Each regional district sends a representative to sit on the ICF board. The RDN’s rep, Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay, excused himself from the RDN board’s discussion last week.

If the RDN’s rep on the ICF board isn’t going to participate in RDN discussions about the ICF, what’s the point of having such a rep?

RDN chair Joe Stanhope agreed McKay’s decision not to participate in the discussion last week was odd. Perhaps McKay’s move would be understandable if there was some financial commitment being discussed, Stanhope told us, but that wasn’t the case last week.

“Mayor McKay did not have to excuse himself from the information report,” Stanhope told The NEWS. “He’s taking a conservative approach, I’d assume.”

Chairman Joe is too nice a person to say it, but what’s happening here is further indication the ICF wants no scrutiny or input from its supposed partners. Just the million bucks from taxpayers, thank-you very much. The RDN has to pass a formal motion to pry a consultant’s report from the ICF, for crying out loud.

We understand why McKay would want to keep the rail service dream alive. If it was real, it would have a positive economic impact for the city he represents.

However, when he goes to ICF meetings as the RDN’s rep, he is also representing the taxpayers of Bowser, Qualicum Beach, Nanoose Bay, Errington, Parksville et al.

For many reasons, especially ones related to taxpayer money, it’s time to fish or cut bait with the notion of passenger rail service on Vancouver Island.

— Editorial by John Harding

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