Rail corridor spending folly

Spending $20 million to bring back the day liner to its former obsolete self is wasting time and money.

Spending $20 million to bring back the day liner to its former obsolete self is wasting time and money.

The rail corridor land however will never be obsolete and is both a gift from the 19th century planning of Dunsmuir and a golden opportunity for the future to make Vancouver Island a world class destination for pedestrians, cyclists and rail travel alike.

Vancouver Island leaders, planners and business need to come up with a plan based on assumptions that are realistic. The population growth here over the last 20 years out-performed expectations of infrastructure plans at the time. For example; the Church Road transfer station processed twice as much tonnage since it started receiving in 1992 than was forecast in the initial business plan.

We are living on the most ecologically diverse, unpopulated, stunningly beautiful, livable piece of real estate on the planet.

With the North America baby boom population heading into retirement, emigration, and tourism from around the world coming to B.C. in droves, we better get used to the idea that by the end of this century and even much sooner that there could be three-to-four million full-time residents and millions more visitors annually to Vancouver Island.

This is already happening in the Lower Mainland and if thinking it is not going to overflow here is burying your head squarely in the granite.

We need to plan for it, or 20-30 years from now, end up with an awful mess of gridlock and poor planning.

The $20 million should be spent on a comprehensive cost and feasibility on the construction of a two-way elevated sky train or monorail system with a travel speed of 80-100 km/h from Victoria to Mount Washington Parkway/Campbell River (phase one). Shuttle systems from the stations would complement your ride in getting you to your destination.

A new zoning plan along the route would encourage development of mid and high rise buildings taking advantage of the spectacular 360 degree scenery and without the foot print you see happening in larger subdivisions.

Wouldn’t it be nice to travel anywhere on the Island in the same time it would take your car without the hassle of driving. No more designated drivers.

Eliminate most school buses and thousands of vehicles from the road and would become an absolute tourist bonanza. The elevated system would offer spectacular views becoming a must do for both Canadian and international tourists ensuring its feasibility. The ground level would provide a route for bikes and pedestrian traffic without the risk of riding on the highway adding even more tourism.

This mega project would create an unprecedented construction boom creating jobs and bringing back to the Island a demographically more balanced population.

The energy, finance and political will would all be resourced on Vancouver Island. A biomas co-gen plant could be built in Union Bay by the coal mine as part of the approvals in developing the mine generating green electricity required for the new line.

New taxes created by the influx of population, tourism and lesser individual vehicle costs would repay the capitol cost of building the line, amortised over 25 years leaving residents of the island with relatively cheap transportation.

Politically the one thing all residents of Canada’s Pacific Islands share in common is the amount of wealth that has been extracted in resources or paid in taxes to the provincial and federal governments over the last 60 years has been a very poor investment indeed.

In order to gain more control of our separated land bases off the west coast we need to vote as a block and organise a separate provincial political party vying for our fair share in re-investing the wealth in new infrastructure on the Islands.

It may even be conceivable with eleven ridings elected to hold the balance of power in the legislature, or at least a very strong voice.

The time has come to move it forward.

Brian Jenkins

Qualicum Beach