To the Editor,
It seems transportation planning for the Alberni and Nanaimo Regional Districts has been hijacked. Why were taxpayers never consulted or informed of this committee and its $100 million proposal to government?
I want the Asia Pacific Gateway to happen in Port Alberni. I have sent many letters to our elected representatives advocating for Port Alberni to be part of it.
But in these times of economic austerity, it is insulting to taxpayers that local leaders would propose spending up to $100 million on a 25-kilometre highway plus unknown sums for the ring road when reactivating the Alberni rail line would be a fraction of the cost.
Mr. DeLuca cites a decrease in accidents, connections to Nanaimo and Annacis Island and time savings. Yet the railway would eliminate truck accidents, is already connected to Annacis and Nanaimo and the time savings are only for trips to Courtenay.
These new routes would blast through the watersheds of Big Qualicum River and Cherry Creek plus the City of Port Alberni’s Bainbridge Lake, and put existing recreational assets at risk.
The railway would destroy nothing, and would actually enhance existing tourism opportunities.
In fact, for the sums this committee has dreamt up, the railway could be extended down the Alberni Inlet to a new terminal, away from all the problems of the Alberni Harbour. Then customers, not the taxpayers, would pay for maintenance of the railway once it was built.
This is about more than the coal mine now. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on rail infrastructure for the Prince Rupert and Vancouver ports. Port Alberni could be part of that.