We should put no more money into deteriorating railway

Saltair – In September I wrote to the CAO of the CVRD seeking copies of any studies assessing the financial feasibility of refurbishing and upgrading 140 miles of collapsing railbed, dated rolling stock and engines, rotten ties, frogs, crossings, bridges, lighting, crossing signals and a plethora of other related issues. In part it read: “What I am seeking are the studies or analyses, reviewed and considered by the board, which detail and present expected values for issues such as:

average speed at which rail traffic would move from Nanaimo to Victoria, particularly given the greater than 100 level crossings, bridges and trestles, much of it through municipalities

anticipated time and cost of trip for ICF passenger traffic twixt Duncan and Victoria vs the existing time and cost of the same trip by bus

cost of freight per mile by ICF vs bus or truck

anticipated ICF ridership vs current bus, car, car pool [including transit pool cars] ridership

impact of the Capital Regional District inclination to use the ICF rail-line for LRT purposes from downtown Victoria to the western communities

anticipated ICF freight cost and the potential financial impact on existing freight services

what entity[ies] will assume future costs of operation when/if there are losses in the future

total CVRD financial commitment to date

SVR’s financial ownership position in the ICF

SVR commitment to present and future costs

First Nations’ financial commitments,

most current audited financial statement from ICF” In response I received only a copy of the slick presentation made to the CVRD board by the president of Southern Railway – a subsidiary of Dennis Washington’s multi-billion dollar American empire. A presentation that resembles the type of prospectus so prevalent on the VSE in times gone by – but nonetheless deemed by the board sufficient to donate a half-million dollars to the cause.

In plain words, the board neither received nor sought from staff any independent financial feasibility assessment of the benefits to the community or of the disadvantages to present businesses before it committed a half-million of our tax dollars to the ICF. That the board would commit monies based on such a pitch made by a billion-dollar company together with the “feel-good” aura of railroading is not only questionable, it borders on negligent.

The present stratagem of “suspending” freight service is almost certainly a BC Ferries-like rate-setting ploy – positioning the board for yet another donation. The board should be very careful before throwing more of our money into that bottomless pit. In fact, they should not.

Better the board take the initiative and seek the commitment of other interested groups – perhaps even including a re-oriented ICF with altruistic values – to acquire the moribund railway and use the railbed as a hiking/cycling trail spanning half the length of the Island.

Now that would be worth our investment as opposed to lining Dennis Worthington’s pockets [233rd wealthiest billionaire in the world].

Pat Mulcahy

Saltair

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

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP arrests five suspects in multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking investigation

Cocaine, prohibited loaded handgun, weapons, stolen vehicles seized

Documentary on legendary Chief Tzouhalem to be filmed in Cowichan

Film is the latest project by Drama Camp Productions

Bottle drive Saturday to assist sick Cowichan teenager and family

Sammy Dubois, 14, disgnosed with rare neurological disorder

Editorial: Alternative approval process is not the enemy

Not everything should go to a referendum.

Provincial success stands out at Cowichan Secondary awards

Wrestling, basketball and field hockey teams earn recognition in shortened year

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Campaign aims to raise $50K for young family of deceased Vancouver Island skydiver

James Smith, 34, died July 5 following incident in Nanoose Bay

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

RCMP disarm man experiencing mental health crisis

The male pulled a knife on officers and then held it to his own throat expressing a desire to die

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Most Read