Put the rail system out of our misery

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News Editor

Monday, December 3 2012

Thanks to a decision made by the Regional District of Nanaimo Board Gabriolans will potentially be putting $39,000 toward restoring passenger rail service on Vancouver Island. This decision came in the same week as a public bus system proposal was put forward from Gabriolans, which would include paying drivers to operate the bus system. The amount such a system would need from the RDN or private donors to get it going? $33,000.
This rail system should have been retired gracefully when the last passenger cars headed down to Victoria a couple years ago. Mayor John Ruttan says he doesn’t want to be part of the group that killed rail on Vancouver Island. Why not? Put us all out of our collective tax misery and let it go.
And for those who would compare this to using tax dollars for fixing the ferry system: the ferries are an essential service for all islanders for which there is no alternative.
The railway is a ghost of a romanticized past which was replaced years ago by the island highway and other modes of transportation.
The five regional districts will be on the hook for $3.2 million. The province and feds have committed $15 million combined. In all, the proponents of this railway project think they need $20.9 million to get things going. (no word on later ongoing costs....)
And Gabriola still waits on the whiff of a possibility of having a single public bus to help islanders get around within their own community.
Being on the losing side of a decision like this is part of the cost of being in a federation like the RDN. The positive is sharing the cost of waste, parks and other services management.
But there are a lot more ways Gabriolans could be spending $39,000 of our taxes.
Unofficial poll: what would you prefer $39K be spent on? Email derek@soundernews.com