The Comox Valley Regional district committee of the whole has unanimously approved a one-time grant-in-aid of $392,000 to the Island Corridor Foundation, which has asked for assistance from five Island districts to repair the decayed E&N railway line between Victoria and Courtenay.
Support is subject to approval from the other districts, and to comments from Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland officials to whom a staff report will be forwarded.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District, Alberni Clayoquot Regional District and the Capital Regional District have approved the request while the Regional District of Nanaimo has approved at the committee level. The total ask is $3.2 million which will repair 48 bridges.
“We’re very pleased,” ICF chief operating officer Graham Bruce said Tuesday. “This is a big decision.”
Pending approval next week from the CVRD board, the $392,000 will be funded by a tax requisition. According to the district, the public overwhelmingly supports the railway project.
“We need to protect what we have here,” Area B director Jim Gillis said Tuesday. While the project will likely cost more than $3.2 million, Gillis said it’s a start.
“We’re at a crossroads here,” Courtenay director Jon Ambler said. “The railway is part of what made Canada Canada. We suffer from the tyranny of distance. We’ve lost them at our peril.”
Last spring, the Province and federal government committed a combined $15 million for railroad infrastructure in an effort to rebuild the Island railway. Improvements provide an incremental approach to restoring and expanding passenger and freight service.