Ladysmith – How many pockets does a taxpayer have? According to the CVRD you need five to fund their Island Rail project.
First pocket: municipal. A permissive tax exemption means no property tax payable and the money actually flows the other way with an initial (there’s more to come!) grant from the member municipalities of $3.2 million for capital improvements.
Second pocket: provincial, as the CVRD has convinced the province to put up $7.5 million tax dollars for capital improvements.
Third pocket: federal, $7.5 million for capital improvements. Fourth pocket: feds again, this time for an annual operating subsidy.
And that fifth pocket, well the CVRD and their member municipalities formed Island Rail as a charity, so any dollars still in those pockets, well, it’s Cops for Cancer or Island Rail, you choose! And this is just the start for basic track and bridge repairs. For the train to travel at a reasonable speed, all those uncontrolled crossings require upgrading, and with trails with kids and pets within three metres of the tracks in many places (Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Chemainus, Duncan, Shawnigan, Langford), high fencing and safe pedestrian crossings for the entire corridor are required. The CVRD should provide the full cost of the project – the impact on our municipal, provincial, and federal taxes – and let taxpayers vote.