ICF hits up ACRD for track upgrade cash

The Island Corridor Foundation needs infrastructure upgrades and it wants to levy regional districts' taxpayers to do the work.

The Island Corridor Foundation needs infrastructure upgrades and it wants the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District’s help to pay for them.

ICF officials Graham Bruce and Ken McRae made their pitch to ACRD directors at a board meeting on Aug. 8, ACRD official Wendy Thomson said.

According to minutes from the meeting, Bruce said that the federal and provincial governments provided the ICF with $17.5 million dollars for track restoration on the Vancouver Island Railway between Victoria and Courtenay.

But the ICF needs $5 million more for bridge and trestle repair, and the foundation is asking its five member regional districts to help raise the amount.

The money would be raised through taxing regional districts by an amount rumoured to be 70 cents per $100,000 in property value.

Bruce sketched some broad strokes but the details need to be examined and discussed before a final decision is made, ACRD vice chair Cindy Solda said.

“This is a financial matter so of course there are going to be a lot of questions asked,” Solda said in a telephone interview.

Chief among Solda’s concerns is the precedent opening the ACRD’s wallet would set if it agrees to pay for the upgrades.

“Is this a one-off or is this going to become a regular thing,” Solda asked, adding that the project could incur further costs. “And this is a federal responsibility so they (ICF) should go back and lobby them.”

Another concern is when upgrade work would finally get around to Port Alberni.

Chairman Glenn Wong and CAO Russell Dyson will attend an ICF meeting regarding the trestle work and report back to the board.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com