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LETTER: Rail is the right choice for Vancouver Island

‘Corridor should never be forfeited for uses other than rail’

Re: ‘Readers discuss latest E&N rail question’ (Your Views, PQB News, June 22)

In my view, rail forfeited for a cycling ‘trail’ is not useful except to a very few. Cyclists could face long expanses of trail with no ‘services’, suitable only for the hardy minority. Weather would play a part, too.

Already there are trails for exercise and enjoyment in our communities.

Consider these Island population increases from census charts 2016 to 2021: Langford 31.8 per cent, Tofino 27.9 per cent, Comox 6.8 per cent, Courtenay 9.2 per cent, Campbell River 7.6 per cent. Observe development and growth in PQB since 2021.

According to a CBC report, Nanaimo at 10 per cent (encompassing QB and Parksville) is the fifth-fastest growing metropolitan area in Canada. These facts point to the population base becoming denser up and down the Island, providing many more passengers to access and pay for train travel.

READ MORE: Island community wants government to save rail line before time runs out

Further increases in Island population in the next five years, and the next five after that and onwards will demand rail’s use.

Passenger rail is a viable alternative to moving around residents and tourists alike. Without it, foresee severe frustration with highway traffic in future, if you haven’t already.

If the track was finished today the train would be a far cry from (as one reader said) “having no more than 15 people on board” when she last travelled the line in 2011 or prior. The train won’t and needn’t be fast, it can’t be a ‘speed’ train; it’s a means to transport Islanders from A to B or C and back to home (or hotel) again, whether a day trip or stopovers – for necessity (i.e. medical), tourism, or whatever reason.

The expense to resuscitate the project will be enormous (perhaps the cost of a new museum), but the corridor should never be forfeited for uses other than rail. If not now or ourselves, then for our descendants to blame us for short-sightedness.

Pam Bates

Qualicum Beach

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