Letter to the editor.

LETTER – Revitalized rail is neither green nor financially viable alternative

Dear editor,

Rail has not been reactivated anywhere on the E&N Corridor for good reason: it requires massive taxpayer funding. The provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure showed due diligence in examining the case for rail. The Island Rail Corridor Condition Assessment (March, 2020) revealed low projected passenger counts, particularly on the northern section. On the southern more heavily populated section, bus lanes handily outgained passengers for 2041 compared to rail. Rail did not shift automobile passengers from using the Malahat; frequent buses and the Mill Bay ferry would be better.

In 2015 the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) requested $14.5 million from provincial and federal governments and $7 million from regional districts. Now the ICF demand has ballooned to a hefty $431 million, more in line with the provincially funded study costing. Unlike in 2015, senior governments have been silent. They are rightfully heeding the low benefit to cost that the provincial study outlined. Yet the ICF remains paralyzed offering only singular, expensive, ineffective rail for the corridor.

The proposed ICF “business case” offers nothing for active transportation users. Without knowledge of costs of active transportation along the corridor, cyclists and pedestrians can expect to be shunted to the sideline for years to come.

The Supreme Court of Appeal ruling applied to the lands within the Snaw-naw-as reservation, which would revert to Canada, then to that First Nation. The rail right of way outside the reservation was not contested in the court case.

A trail on the rail bed offers an alternative to the false dilemma of rail-or-nothing. This realistic vision was taken up by the Comox Valley Regional District on April 12th, 2022. The ICF needs to hastily pursue this alternative for the corridor.

Graeme Lamson

Qualicum Beach

Letter to the Editor

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