Taxpayers could be on hook for $20 million to restore E&N railway

Taxpayers could pay a quarter of the approximately $20 million needed to fully restore the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway.

Taxpayers in the Comox Valley and other Island municipalities could pay a quarter of the approximately $20 million needed to fully restore the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway if the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) or another party doesn’t buck up.

But that would only amount to a couple of yearly trips to Tim Horton’s, according to Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula, a member of the Island Corridor Foundation board.

Senior governments have committed a combined $15 million, which ICF chief operating officer Graham Bruce said will fund 10 years worth of passenger rail service. As for the other $5.4 million, ICET had initially said no but is now revisiting the request, Jangula said.

The foundation is also appealing to private industry or may borrow on the open market, among other options.

Another possibility is a levy, which would amount to three or four dollars per year per homeowner from Victoria to the Comox Valley and to Port Alberni.

“We’re all going to benefit from this railway when it comes back, through business and through tourism,” Jangula said.

Passenger train service had been suspended when the line was no longer deemed safe and funding was not available to repair decayed rail ties and loose bolts. There had been a self-powered passenger car running daily along with a freight service. The latter has continued to operate.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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