Railway’s estimated costs too low

As a former RDN board member, I thought I would provide some comments to you in reference to a recent editorial ‘ICF Representation’

As a former Regional District of Nanaimo board member, I thought I would provide some comments to you in reference to a recent editorial ‘ICF Representation’ (The NEWS, Jan. 19) and the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF).

The cost of re-activating the railway’s 290 km infrastructure is, according to most independent experts, well over $80 million. These estimates were made more than five years ago and are now obsolete.

The conditionally available $20 million was hardly adequate in 2010, and with the continuous deterioration and aging of the railroad plant, will prove to be even more inadequate now.

The right of way from Victoria to Comox is a tremendous asset and is irreplaceable. It would be very difficult, both politically and financially, to put it back together once it was broken up. One has to think of sports, bike paths, fibre optic links, utilities and perhaps even fast transit in 50 or 100 years. Telus is already a user and paying $350,000 annually to the ICF.

It is my observation the project’s sentimental values (everyone loves a train) is the ICF’s main endorsement. The support from the various regional districts, provincial and federal governments is ambiguous.

There is a general realization that current funding is inadequate, yet no one wants to put in more money because of the uncertainty of the business model. At the same time, no one wants to be historically designated to have pulled the plug.

It is an expensive game of brinkmanship.

Jack de JongLantzville

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