Editorial: Time to get excited about Vancouver Island rail again

We have long been proponents of getting the Island Rail Corridor back up and running

It’s about investing in the future.

We are proponents of getting the Island Rail Corridor back up and running for both passenger and freight service. Having such a corridor sitting there, ready for us to use, is a boon that other jurisdictions can only dream of. Over the years, we have allowed this incredibly valuable asset decay, to the point where now a significant investment is needed if we are not to squander its potential.

As the years drag on, prospects for the project become dimmer, as the infrastructure further deteriorates. It is to our shame this has been allowed to happen. But a recent report from the province has once again brought Island Rail to top of mind, and the numbers, while admittedly large, are not exorbitant in terms of large-scale infrastructure projects.

The province estimates approximately $500 million, while the Island Corridor Foundation (which owns the line) questions some of those figures (a 50 per cent contingency, in particular) and estimates about $250 million will be needed. Big dollars, both. But not so much that the project needs to be dismissed out of hand.

Consider, as the ICF CEO Larry Stevenson says, that the McKenzie interchange project in Victoria, which addressed just one intersection, has come in at $96 million. If we can see our way clear to spending almost $100 million on just one intersection, surely a rail line connecting Victoria to Courtenay, and Nanaimo to Port Alberni is well worth at least twice the price tag.

We believe the rail line is a great investment in the green transportation of the future, and Stevenson is further correct that it could prove to be a great investment for the province and the federal government in stimulus post COVID-19. We can fix the rail with B.C. engineers, B.C. wood, B.C. gravel and B.C. labour.

We have long wanted a viable alternative travel route to the Malahat connecting the Victoria area to the rest of the Island, and this is it. The corridor is already there.

We want to get people out of their individual cars, and fix congestion. This works to do that, too.

Properly managed it could also be a big tourist asset. Many people would love to sit back and enjoy the scenery as they tour the length of Vancouver Island, stopping and spending money in our communities along the way.

Now is not the time to give up on rail. Now’s the time to get excited about it again.

— Black Press

Editorialsrailway

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tour de Rock alumni ride through Port Alberni

Event was scaled down this year in response to COVID-19

Third brewery on the way for Port Alberni

Alberni Brewing Company hopes to open in early 2021

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Port Alberni long-term care home gets new bath chair

Westhaven residents say thanks to WCGH Foundation for donation

Port Alberni RCMP searching for missing 43-year-old man

Maxime Ouellet is known to camp in wooded areas around Port Alberni

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Most Read