EDITORIAL: Unsure about ICF

Mixed messages make it difficult to rely on ICF for solid information on the re-start of rail service on Vancouver Island

We believe many, if not all, members of the Island Corridor Foundation’s board of directors have genuine, positive intentions when it comes to re-starting rail service on Vancouver Island.

Which is why the contrived, back-patting, no-news conference they staged Wednesday in Nanaimo is troubling.

Who, exactly, did they think they were going to fool? Why, exactly, would they stage such an event with no real progress to report?

One answer to those questions may seem a tad cynical, but it’s a valid observation: with support from at least one regional district and two communities along the rail line crumbling, the ICF needed a feel-good moment.

Tonight in Nanaimo, Parksville Coun. Marc Lefebvre will introduce a motion to the Regional District of Nanaimo’s board of directors expressing non-confidence in the ICF and calling for a task force to re-examine how, or if, rail could be re-started on Vancouver Island.

This is not a good development for the ICF and its CEO Graham Bruce. Regional district funding (about $900,000) is contingent upon a return of passenger rail service to where it was before it was shut down due to safety reasons.

Wednesday’s no-news conference shed absolutely zero light on that contingency. So, if it was the ICF’s or Bruce’s plan to save that funding through the announcement of a supposed “tentative agreement” neither party (Southern Railway and VIA) would confirm, they failed.

In fact, VIA was kind of baffled by the whole news conference plan. The ICF sent an e-mail to VIA asking for permission to use VIA logos and have some kind of VIA participation in the news conference Wednesday, but VIA wanted no part of it.

That all said, MP James Lunney told The NEWS he believes an agreement is imminent.

We believe a functioning railway to move freight and passengers would be a boost to Vancouver Island’s tourism potential and economy. Some may see it as a romantic, foolish notion, but we see it as an important cog in the Island’s future economy.

It would be more reassuring, however, if we felt the ICF had a handle on these matters and wasn’t trying to play political games.

— Editorial by John Harding

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