With the imminent demise of rail service on the E&N, it is time to seriously consider not putting anymore tax dollars into maintaining a crumbling railway infrastructure and using the railway corridor for the development of a multi-use trail from Victoria to Parksville, Port Alberni and Courtney.
The vision of this project would be to create a recreational trail on Vancouver Island for all users whether bikers, walkers, hikers, horseback riders or commuters. A trail of this magnitude along with the already existing Galloping Goose Trail in Victoria would be a drawing card to national and international visitors alike, boosting the local tourist economy.
The objective would be to maintain the railroad history by maintaining the historic railway stations as tourist information centres or kiosks which could direct people to local attractions and accommodation. The cost of developing the trail should be minimal as the salvage value of the steel rails and ties would go towards a contract for their removal. Removal would be done with the least amount of disturbance leaving the rail bed in a condition conducive to immediate use of recreational traffic with the possibility of a top dressing of fine gravel or pavement in the future.
Utility companies, such as, gas, water and power may wish to utilize the corridor for their infrastructure and by leasing out this opportunity, future maintenance costs of the trail could be minimized.
With a multi-use trail in place, the corridor will always remain intact and when future rail transportation is required it could be constructed where needed, while relocating the trail alongside the new infrastructure.
Rail-trails encourage healthier, more mobile lifestyles for people of all ages and abilities by making possible places to walk, bike and more. They support a healthier climate and environment by making active transportation a viable alternative to the automobile. They contribute to a more vibrant community interaction, connecting people to the places they live, work and play. They encourage people to get outside and get active by using the trail for local visiting and shopping and maybe even taking a rail-trail vacation and see the countryside from a perspective once enjoyed only by train conductors. They develop healthier economies by promoting tourism, local businesses and increasing property values.
By making active transportation a viable option for everyday travel, we will cost-effectively reduce oil dependence, climate pollution and obesity rates while providing more and better choices for getting around town.
Before wasting anymore tax dollars on this dying infrastructure we need to consider the above proposal so that thousands of people can use and enjoy this corridor everyday rather than just the few who may ride a future running BudCar.