The Province of B.C. has committed to work with the Island Corridor Foundation and First Nations to do an assessment of the E&N rail corridor, which encompasses an area that includes Victoria, Courtenay and Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)

Vancouver Island First Nation calls for repurposing of E&N rail line

Suggestion: ‘A level, accessible, paved trail that connects communities and promotes recreation’

A mid-Island First Nation is calling for the repurposing of the E&N Railway Corridor, saying there is no business case for the investment necessary to reopen the rail line.

“How about the East Coast Trail? A level, accessible, paved trail that connects communities and promotes recreation? Despite several funding proposals, the Island Corridor Foundation has been unable to secure the financial investment needed to rehabilitate the track,” read a May 5 release from the Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation, based between Nanaimo and Parksville.

This comes after a pair of recent estimates about the cost of reopening – a report from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure assessing the cost at $700 million and a lower number of $254 million from the CEO of the Island Corridor Foundation, Larry Stevenson. The ICF owns the line, which stretches 220-kilometres from Victoria to Courtenay. Passenger service halted in 2011 due to concerns around track safety, while freight service continues sparingly on Vancouver Island.

Fifty per cent of the board seats on the ICF are represented by Indigenous Nations, with the corridor running through 14 First Nation territories, including Snaw-Naw-As.

READ MORE: Realistic figure to get Vancouver Island rail up and running $254 million: CEO

READ MORE: Island Rail Corridor needs $700 million in upgrades to get back on track

Brent Edwards, a Snaw-Naw-As council member, said the purpose of the ICF is to protect the corridor and using the land for a purpose other than rail could achieve that. The Snaw-Naw-As currently has a civil lawsuit before the courts against the ICF and the Attorney General of Canada, asking for the return of land that they say was wrongfully taken away from them when the railway was initially built.

“We’ve had numerous First Nations that are part of the Island Corridor Foundation support our position and despite of that, they keep running amok, running ahead, saying ‘we’re going to get rail up and running one day,’” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of First Nations that would like to see it repurposed and that was the intent of the Island Corridor Foundation when it was set up was to protect the corridor and not have tunnel vision on rail.”

Edwards called the potential repurposing “the real opportunity.”

Stevenson said the purpose of the ICF is to reopen rail service, noting he would like to see trails developed as well as the rail line.

“The Island Corridor Foundation is very supportive of trails alongside the railway and in fact, we have built over 100 kilometres of trails on the Island and it’s our intent to continue building them in the future,” he said. “But we are still – the base of this organization is to restore train service to the Island.”

cloe.logan@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

LantzvilleParksvillerailwayvancouverisland

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

 

The province has completed a Request for Proposal process for a corridor assessment, according to the Island Corridor Foundation. - File photo

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Don’t feed the bears, BCCOS warns, after incidents in Cowichan

People have been spotted trying to feed bear near Youbou

Elizabeth May endorses Furstenau in BC Greens race

Former federal party leader backs Cowichan Valley MLA

Symphony pop-up concerts coming to Saltair

Only 40 tickets available so get them soon if you’re interested

Langford teens reunited with family after rescue near Chemainus

Friends spent night in missing truck, spotted by RCMP helicopter

Cowichan School District wins top trades training award

“The welding program provided an amazing head start on my career”

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

UPDATE: Vancouver Island skydiving community mourns loss of one of its own

James Smith, 34, of Victoria, dies in Nanoose Bay incident

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

RCMP seek man facing sexual assault charges

Police believe he may be living on central Vancouver Island but also has a history in the Cariboo region

Most Read