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LETTER – Trail proponent takes issue with letter supporting the return of rail service

Dear editor,

Re: The cost to provide modern rail service is a bargain compared to the alternative

Mr. Davis, who lives in the Cowichan Valley, is now spreading his invective to the Comox Valley also.

He and others from his VITCC group are in the habit of attacking anyone who supports conversion of the unused and decaying E&N corridor to an active transportation route. This includes regular trolling of the FORT-VI Facebook page with inflammatory statements and outright falsehoods. He may not know the CVRD unanimously voted to request the ICF consider other options for the corridor besides just rail.

His reference to the court decision hanging over the future of the corridor clearly shows time is rapidly running out on rail, now just over four months. There is no government appetite to waste hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on an archaic rail corridor with an extremely weak business case. Yet single-minded folk like the VITCC adamantly refuse to consider any other alternative use for the rail bed even though it is more apparent every day that rail is not coming back. For them, it’s rail or bust.

I take issue in particular to two comments made by Mr. Davis.

First, his statement that FORT-VI has been invited by the ICF many times to collaborate with them is patently untrue. This has never happened. In fact, FORT-VI twice approached the ICF – to discuss alternative options on the rail bed. Both times we were disregarded and summarily dismissed.

Secondly, it is extremely malicious and offensive to suggest FORT-VI disrespects Indigenous people. We have had a number of cordial and respectful meetings with various First Nations on the island. Mr. Davis fails to understand that what First Nations most want are historical wrongs righted. While the ICF battles them in court, FORT-VI totally supports First Nations’ efforts to regain control of their reserve lands and decide for themselves what use best suits them. Enough said.

Jim Smiley

Friends of Rails to Trails – Vancouver Island

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