To the Editor,
The Island Corridor Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway, recently started asking Vancouver Island regional districts for $3.2 million to repair bridges along the route.
So far, Alberni-Clayoquot has agreed to contribute $115,000, and the Cowichan Valley district has pledged $488,100. Last week, the CRD’s Finance Committee approved $1.2 million for the ICF pending approval.
Island taxpayers need to be concerned. A CRD report stated the $3.2 million won’t cover the upgrades needed. Worse, the ICF has not obtained a commitment from VIA Rail to resume basic passenger service.
The ICF’s claim that it will cost only $3.2 million to get all 48 bridges and trestles up to basic operational level strains credibility. A February 2012 report conducted for the Ministry of Transportation said it would cost at least $8.7 million to get the bridges operational and operating for 10 years?
The ICF has decided that only its board members and employees need to know what its plan is. The public is supposed to provide cash and not ask any questions.
The ICF also receives $340,000 annually from Telus for telecommunications lines that run along its right-of-way. What happened to all those funds?
I want to see railway service return. However, I believe the regional districts should refuse the funding request until the ICF has a new executive, a transparent board, and a realistic plan..
(Editor’s note: Jim Sturgill was a member of the ICF’s rail operations committee for several years. In January 2011, according to Sturgill, the ICF disbanded the committee.)