Island Corridor Foundation president Larry Stevenson talks about rail plans to a room full of proponents, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 in Port Alberni. SUSAN QUINN PHOTO

Island Corridor Foundation brings rail pitch to Port Alberni

CEO Larry Stevenson waits for pivotal meeting with BC gov’t

Port Alberni is a potential gold mine for rail service: that was the message new Island Corridor Foundation CEO Larry Stevenson brought to a full house at the Best Western Barclay Hotel last week.

Stevenson and Andrea Thomas were in Port Alberni for the seventh and final town hall meeting to discuss rail service on Vancouver Island. Other town halls have taken place in Esquimalt, Langford, Duncan, Nanaimo, Courtenay and Parksville.

Stevenson spoke for 10 or 15 minutes at the beginning of the meeting, then opened the floor for questions. He explained that the ICF owns the railroad on Vancouver Island, and is willing to assemble a plan for rail use along the whole corridor, but the Province of B.C. has to let them know what they want to see.

Stevenson, who has only been the CEO for three months, made one thing clear: if rail is to be developed on the former E&N line, it will be developed along the whole line—not concentrated in one place such as Langford, to the exclusion of all other communities.

Port Alberni resident Chris Alemany has advocated for rail on Vancouver Island since 2005. He was optimistic after listening to what Stevenson had to say. “It is the first time I have seen the new CEO and I am left impressed by his knowledge of the railway and of making the railway successful,” Alemany said.

“I was most impressed though at how open the discussion was and his very realistic approach to talking about what was possible,” Alemany added.

He agreed that talks with First Nations—especially in Nanoose—are vital to the progression of rail on Vancouver Island. “Nothing happens freight-wise to Alberni or north to Courtenay without Nanoose being involved.”

Stevenson said talks are ongoing, but because at least one issue is before the courts, he couldn’t elaborate.

Kevin Hunter, president of the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society (IHS), whose members operate the tourist train in Port Alberni, asked that the ICF keep them in mind when negotiating for work on the Port Alberni sub.

Stevenson acknowledged that Alberni has been left in the cold by the ICF in the past few years, but said he’s had some concerns the way the Port sub has been run , with various user groups not getting along. “I need to make sure everybody understands this is my sandbox,” he said.

“I’ve got people running to BC Safety Authority about a piece of track that we own. Nobody should go to BC Safety before they come to us.”

Stevenson said the ICF has a pivotal meeting with Premier John Horgan and other stakeholders planned for Dec. 10. He said anything could happen in that meeting, but after seven town halls meetings that have drawn several hundred people, he’s prepared to answer any questions Horgan may have.

“I’m not sure how the government is going to approach this,” Stevenson said. “We just want to build a railroad.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artists showcase a range of mediums

“Into the Forest” will feature everything from watercolours to quilting

Divers explore the deeps of Sproat Lake using vintage equipment

Heritage Hard Hat Divers will have a maritime heritage exhibit in Port Alberni

EDITORIAL: In face of tough week, Port Alberni first responders deserve our respect

Last week was a difficult week for first responders in the Alberni Valley…

Alberni group focuses on stigmatization as biggest barrier to opioid crisis

Community session planned to raise dialogue on opioid crisis response

Home care complaints up 45% on Vancouver Island

Number of home care hours delivered down 6%, complaints up 45 %

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

Forestry and legumes shippers say railways prioritized other commodities

Companies say they lost millions on Port of Vancouver shipments

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

B.C. woman wins Instagram celebrity’s boob job contest

‘Kirill was here’ held a contest for women to win a boob job and a trip to Miami

Man pulls over to help injured owl, gets hit by SUV

Chase RCMP say owl flew away while they were on scene

New food guide addresses ‘elephant’ in the room – alcohol

Experts welcomed the tougher stance on an issue they say demands a co-ordinated strategy

Most Read