Having just returned from Quebec where I cycled the P’tit train du Nord trail with my friends, I was struck once more by how wonderful a rails-to-trails path can be.
This is a 200 km path which has been converted from a former railway track to a path which is used by cyclists, walkers, dog walkers, cross-country skiers, and many more.
What was once a neglected railway bed has now become a tourist destination.
All of the quaint train stations have been converted to cafes, bike shops, tourist information centres and so on.
The B&Bs along the route which were struggling are now thriving because of the tourists and locals using the path.
I think it is probably safe to say that our island railway is not viable. If we put more money into it, we will just be postponing the inevitable.
Tourism is a huge industry on our island, and we only have to look at the Confederation Trail in PEI, or closer to home, the Galloping Goose Trail in Victoria to see what a boost to the economy a trail like that can be.
Today’s tourists are looking for active vacations where they can get exercise as well as enjoy the scenery.
Having a bike trail from Victoria to Comox with an offshoot to Port Alberni would definitely make our island a destination spot for today’s active tourists.
I applaud the Qualicum Beach town council for looking into alternative uses for the railway corridor.