The Cowichan Valley Regional District is considering entering into a 25-year lease agreement with the Island Corridor Foundation for trail use and development within the E&N Railway Corridor.
Council in the Municipality of North Cowichan agreed to enter into the agreement at its regular meeting on July 18 after the CVRD sent the municipality a letter asking for its direction on the issue.
Similar letters are expected to be sent to other members of the CVRD, including the City of Duncan, Town of Ladysmith and Town of Lake Cowichan asking if they want to enter the agreement as well.
In order to proceed with the agreement, all four municipalities are required to sign on.
Following acquisition of the E&N Corridor in 2006 by the ICF, regional districts along the more than 220-kilometre railway corridor between Victoria and Courtenay collaborated with the ICF to develop standards and guidelines for trail development within the corridor.
That collaboration led to the creation of the “Vancouver Island Rail Corridor Rail-With-Trail Design Guidelines”.
Through application of these design guidelines, the CVRD has proceeded to construct sections of the Cowichan Valley Trail within the railway corridor lands, including trails from Duncan to Lake Cowichan, and sections within the Chemainus/Ladysmith area.
“Tendering for construction to complete the rail-with-trail between Saltair and Chemainus is currently proceeding, and preliminary design work is also underway for extending the rail-with-trail south of Chemainus to Westholme in 2019,” said Brian Farquhar, the CVRD’s manager of parks and trails, in a report.
“The CVRD also maintains the Friendship Trail within the E&N Railway Corridor from Duncan to Green Road.”
Farquhar said that with continued expansion of the CVRD’s trail network within the corridor, it’s timely that a long-term agreement be secured with the ICF to ensure the viability and investment of these trails for many years to come for the benefit of local residents and visitors.
He said the Capital Regional District and the Regional District of Nanaimo have already entered into licence-of-occupation agreements with the ICF for use of the corridor for trail development.
The proposed licence-of-occupation agreement would be for 25 years, with a provision for a further 25 years if all parties agree.
The agreement would allow the CVRD and its member municipalities the right to use and occupy a portion of the railway corridor lands for the development, operation and maintenance of non-motorized, multi-use trails.
It would also allow for the consideration for statutory rights-of-way for local government infrastructure projects within the corridor as may be requested by the CVRD and member municipalities, which include water, storm drainage, sewers and dike works.
If an agreement is entered into with the ICF, the costs would include a one-time fee of $5,000 and a file-opening fee of $2,000 to cover the processing of the application.