A meeting today of Island Corridor Foundation members could shed light on the future management of the group that wants to bring passenger rail service back to Vancouver Island.
When the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) voted in March to withdraw its $1 million funding commitment to the ICF, it also passed a motion specifically related to the management contract of the foundation.
Chair Bill Veenhof said the RDN board passed a motion in March saying the board “does not support the retention or continuation of Granneke Management by the ICF board.”
Former Liberal MLA Graham Bruce was hired to be the ICF’s executive director in June of 2009. Granneke is Bruce’s consulting business. Granneke’s contract with the ICF expires today, Tuesday, May 31.
The vice-chair of the ICF board and the RDN’s rep, Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay, said Monday the meeting today of members — not just the board — comes at the request of the RDN.
“As it stands right now, we want to have the ability to hear the members’ concerns,” McKay told The NEWS.
There has been no request for proposals or any advertising by the ICF in relation to its operations/management contract. In response to a question about the management of the ICF past May 31, McKay said on Monday he expects the contract with Granneke “will carry on until it’s renewed.”
The ICF’s 2016 budget includes $268,000 for salaries, administration and office expenses. The salaries alone were budgeted at $196,000 for 2016.
Bruce and other ICF officials have said passenger and freight rail service could be re-started with $20.9 million of funding. Others have disputed that figure, saying it could take more than $100 million to makes the corridor safe for train travel.
But there’s still no funding for the service.
McKay said Monday he relies on reports from experts that say the track can be made safe again for train travel with the $20.9 million in funding from regional districts and both the federal and provisional governments. He said he believes the $20.9 million in work (mostly replacing ties) would make the track safe for freight trains (of a certain weight) to travel at a maximum of 30 miles an hour and passenger trains 40 miles an hour. He said it would take more than $100 million to get the track to a standard where trains could travel up to 60 miles an hour.
The ICF is still waiting for the federal government funding, which would trigger the release of the provincial and regional district (other than the RDN) funding.
The ICF is a not‐for‐profit corporation established specifically to preserve the 319 kilometre rail/trail corridor between Victoria and Courtenay, Duncan to Lake Cowichan and Parksville to Port Alberni. The corridor includes both rail and trail initiatives. Formed in 2003, the ICF is a registered charity, run by a board of 12 directors, representing 11 First Nations, five regional districts and two directors‐at‐large comprised of stakeholder communities along the corridor.
Passenger rail service on Vancouver Island was discontinued in 2011 due to unsafe track conditions. The ICF, mostly through Graham Bruce, has consistently said it could get passenger rail service running again from Victoria to Courtenay with about $21 million from its partners, including the RDN. Some politicians and RDN board members, including those from Parksville, Qualicum Beach and surrounding areas, have disputed that claim.