Rail makes no sense

There are better ways to utilize the island corridor

I am writing in response to “Railway crosses another bridge” (The News, Nov. 16), which reports on the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) initiative to restore passenger rail service on Vancouver Island.

If this taxpayer-funded initiative is successful we may get a whole lot more than we bargained for.

“It just doesn’t make any sense” (Coun. Dave Willie, (The News, Nov. 9). I agree.

In this time of austerity, budget cuts and ferry service reductions, why would the federal and provincial governments commit $15 million to restore rail service for ridership levels of a few dozen passengers per day? A visit to the ICF website sheds some light:

“There is the potential of hauling coal from a proposed coal mine near Fanny Bay to the Port of Alberni. The ICF owns the Alberni sub rail line that connects to the main rail line. SVI has been working to develop a rail option for hauling coal by train rather than by truck.”

The route map on the Southern Rail of B.C. website also proves interesting (Southern Rail owns SVI): along with the highlighted rail line through Oceanside shown on the map, a red star marks the proposed location of the Raven Underground Coal Mine.

The $15 million worth of enthusiasm shown by our MP and MLA is starting to make a lot more sense.

Now why-oh-why haven’t we heard more about this aspect of the rail restoration initiative? Surely a tax-dollar supported plan to run coal trains through Qualicum Beach and Parksville neighbourhoods should be something to get excited about. Think of the health benefits. Think of the effect on property value: nothing says “buy me” quite like “coal train.”

I also encourage residents of Qualicum Beach and Parksville to read the full rail plan on the ICF website, and to contact the RDN board (http://www.rdn.bc.ca). The board’s final vote on is Nov. 27.

Glen Pugh