Trail should have been built on rail bed
The CVRD has completed the phase 1 and phase 2 portion of the rail trail running from Mason’s Beach to the government dock in Shawnigan Lake and should be commended for the quality and design of the project. As a walking trail, it is comfortable to walk on and, come summer, will also be very attractive. Unfortunately, that is where the praise ends as it should not have been built this way in the first place.
The CVRD has spent far too much money on this project considering that it would have been far less expensive to use the current rail bed, only metres away from the trail. While it is true that the rail bed falls under the jurisdiction of the Island Corridor Foundation, the group who have accomplished nothing with their responsibility, except to allow it to deteriorate, the CVRD should have been going to bat for the people of the valley and insist to the provincial government that they order the ICF to move on. In other words, ICF should be told to “use it or lose it.”
Instead of the CVRD and its directors making the case for the comfort, convenience and pleasure of the people, plus the efficient spending of tax dollars, they have chosen the path of least resistance, which is to deplete the public purse to avoid doing the hard work of being the people’s advocates.
Phase 3 (Shawnigan Wharf Park to Old Mill Park) of the project will cost more, as it needs to cross many private properties creating the necessity to build accesses to the other side of the trail and tracks for property owners to access their own property. This right to access is established in the Canada Transportation Act.
The CVRD should avoid these extra costs, put phase 3 on hold and petition the government to allow the use of the rail bed. That is a far less costly proposition.
It has been more than 10 years since the train ceased and it will be decades, if ever before it runs again. The people of this valley and all British Columbians deserve better stewardship of their property than what we are getting from the ICF, the CVRD and the provincial government.