I read with interest the piece on the tax levy being proposed to raise money for the E&N Courtenay-Victoria railway line.
I have wondered aloud why there is such an attachment to a railway that doesn’t seem to be viable.
If it is true that “viable rail service has been a priority for Island communities since 2004 when districts, municipalities and First Nations rallied to save the railway from closure,” then there is likely a plan to accomplish it.
Beyond some minor scheduling changes, I have not seen any actual comprehensive or realistic plan to make the railway viable.
As it exists now, the railway is and will always be a drain on the taxpayer. That means the taxpayer pays for something that doesn’t provide any tangible return.
Nevertheless vocal support exists for maintaining it while the opposition (if it exists) is fairly silent. I want to suggest a way of making the railway more viable and actually a major tourist attraction for the whole Island.
Build a bike path alongside it, the whole length and breadth. Linking communities, used for long or short commutes by bicycles, walkers, runners, skateboarders, rollerbladers, etc.
Recently a friend and I rode our bikes to Victoria from Buckley Bay for my birthday. It was a great trip except for the intense, noisy and sometimes life-threatening traffic and throat-damaging smog especially from Ladysmith on.
I will do it again even with those issues because riding a bike is a wonderful way to travel and a terrific way to see one’s surroundings, and it’s great exercise — no negatives in my mind.
On this two-day trip, we patronized local business all the way down, including a farm bed and breakfast, a hotel, restaurants, convenience stores, a wine store, and a couple of coffeehouses. We discovered some wonderful local businesses on the way. Preparing for the trip, I spent money at two local bike shops and clothing stores.
We didn’t ride home, though. We were picked up and driven home.
How great it would have been to be able to hop on the train home. A yearly pass could be sold to people who want to use it to help pay for the building and maintenance of it. People could hop on with their bikes and have a mode of transportation when they arrive at their destination.
The options are endless with this scenario, limited only by one’s imagination and willingness to work together as a large community for the good of the Island.