Trail Defenders Call for Active Transportation Along Vancouver Island Rail Line – Parksville Qualicum Beach News

A lobby group hopes the nonprofit that runs the Vancouver Island rail line will change its mind about track use.

Friends of Rails to Trails Vancouver Island envisions a continuous active transportation trail on the rail corridor, which covers nearly 290 kilometers from Victoria to Courtenay, with additional sections in Parksville, Nanaimo and Port Alberni. The rail is owned and operated by the Island Corridor Foundation, and FORTVI hopes local governments, including the Regional District of Nanaimo, will support a request to the foundation to allow other transportation to be allowed on the rail bed.

Alastair Craighead, chairman of FORTVI, said his group favors active transportation – walking, running, cycling and e-bikes – and questions the viability of train travel along the railway line.

“This corridor is an old Victorian rail corridor that was never intended for rapid passenger rail…the curves are so tight in some places that the trains can’t run at normal speed, you have to slow down, so there are a lot of issues,” says Craighead. “The other thing is that when this railway was built there were no roads, there were only railway tracks. Now there are about 240 level crossings and it’s a any other problem.

A report from the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure predicted it would cost $700 million to repair the rail line and restore service, but Foundation Corridor Development Manager Andrea Thomas said that this estimate includes a 97% contingency. ICF estimates the cost would be closer to $390 million with a “more reasonable contingency” for the entire line, Thomas said.

The foundation supports active transportation along the rail corridor, she said, and noted that there are many issues at stake, including Indigenous land rights.

“However, we don’t support the idea of ​​ripping leads and having only leads, in fact, it’s probably impossible because we just had a case in the Court of Appeals of Colombia. Briton in Snaw-Naw-As (First Nation) v. ICF and the decision has been taken that in the event that the railway is not used for railway purposes, it is subject to rights of reversion, meaning that the original landowners, prior to the concession of the E&N land, could come back and claim the land,” says Thomas.

That would see the rail line divided into potentially hundreds of parcels, she said, involving 14 First Nations, making the possibility of a continuous trail “thin to none.”

FORTVI made a presentation to the RDN Parks and Trails select committee at its May 4 meeting, but the directors passed no motions of support. Ben Geselbracht, committee member and board representative for RDN ICF, said active transportation has great merits and could benefit the community, as seen with other trails along the corridor.

“I think maintaining the integrity of the corridor is an important concept and it is a fundamental mandate for the ICF… It is important that this very valuable asset to the Vancouver Island region be put to use. highest and best use, which I believe will include active transportation, but in order to determine what that best use is, it must have the full engagement and consent of the First Nations who own it,” Geselbracht said.

According to Craighead, the Regional District of Comox has asked its representative on the ICF Board of Directors to bring forward a motion at the foundation’s next meeting to change its terms of reference to allow for other bed options. track.

Snaw-Naw-As First Nation could not be reached for comment.

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