The planned Rail With Trail pedestrian and cycling trail along the E&N Corridor in Courtenay is rolling along at great speed.
“The project is proceeding very well,” Randy Wiwchar, the city’s director of community services, told council last week. “We have completed the design, and the design has been approved by the Island Corridor Foundation. From a technical perspective, we’re ready to go. Rotary has done a great job in promoting the project, both through their online auction and their live auction. The community is quite excited about it.”
The City of Courtenay, the Island Corridor Foundation and the Courtenay Rotary Club are partnering to build a new cycling and pedestrian trail between Fifth Street and Cumberland Road next to the railroad tracks along the east side of the E&N Corridor.
The Rail With Trail project was announced in February.
The section between Fifth Street and Cumberland Road will be the first phase of the project, and it will be built between April and September.
The second phase from Cumberland Road to 17th Street will be established pending community assistance, other partnerships and funding.
The Courtenay Rotary Club has made the Rail With Trail its major fundraising initiative for 2011, and the club raised more than $70,000 during its online auction and its live auction.
“Rotary did raise a lot of money, so their commitment to the project is pretty well in the bank and ready for us now to move forward,” said Wiwchar.
The city has sent letters to every single adjacent business and residence along the way, notifying them of the project and has received positive feedback.
“We haven’t had a lot of issues from the residences or businesses at this time,” said Wiwchar.
Wiwchar told council that staff is very close to bringing a lease agreement to council for approval, and he will be announcing the involvement of a new sponsor soon.
Work parties will begin soon.
“It’s going to be an exciting summer for Rail With Trail,” said Wiwchar. “I think everybody’s onside, and it looks like a good project.”
The city has been told to carry on with its work even though VIA Rail’s Victoria-to-Courtenay passenger service has been halted since March 21 because the company deemed the tracks unfit for travel, according to Wiwchar.
“The Island Corridor Foundation is prepared to enter the lease; they are quite confident things are going to shape up for them,” he said. “They’re saying go forward with the project.”
The foundation is optimistic the trains will roll again, said Mayor Greg Phelps, who is a board member.
“The Island Corridor Foundation wouldn’t cease to exist (if train service did not restart),” he said. “It would still operate as managers of that property.”
Coun. Jon Ambler expressed appreciation for Rotary for all the positive projects they undertake, and Coun. Larry Jangula felt the Rail With Trail was a real positive project and a “win-win.”