In Ron Merrick’s letter to the editor ‘ICF’s end overdue’ (Sept. 20, The NEWS) and in John Harding’s editorial ‘End ICF charade’ (Sept. 15), serious questions are raised re: why the Island Corridor Foundation continues.
Put simply, the ICF demise means the end of the E&N railway and that means the end of the original Dunsmuir land contract. A little searching on the Internet reveals that Dunsmuir and his associates eventually got approximately 20 per cent of Vancouver Island if, and only if, they ran the E&N “in perpetuity,” operating seven days a week. If that contract is reneged upon, then that means the land titles are tainted for property originating from the Dunsmuir railway contracts, and such titles should revert to the Crown.
It’s basic English common law: land patents derive from the government and ownership is transferred for a “consideration” — either cash or something else; in Dunsmuir’s case, a railroad operating “in perpetuity.” No more railroad, the contract is null and void.
In the U.S. for example, you cannot get land title insurance unless the first line of the abstract says “purchased from the U.S. government” — or else you have an open title and the land can be seized.
In all reality, the Crown would settle immediately with present owners, including First Nations and the timber companies, but control of the minerals, timber and watersheds would be under strict provincial control for the commonwealth, where public well-being in these matters would supersede private interests.
So now you know one possible reason why the ICF doesn’t just fade away. So long as the faint possibility exists that the E&N can be resurrected, the Dunsmuir contract has the possibility of continuing and the land is not seizeable by the Crown.