RDN right to pull ICF funding

Editorial

Wednesday, March 30 2016

It’s about time the RDN pulled its contribution of funding from the Island Corridor Foundation.

For a number of years, the RDN board has (rightfully) questioned why so many tax dollars are being spent by an organization which shared so little information with its funders.

These are not times when taxpayers like to hear they’ve paid out almost a million dollars and have seen little to no result for those monies.

Restoring passenger rail to Vancouver Island may not be a dead dream. But it’s not going to happen with the ICF. At least not based on what the RDN Directors and the public have seen so far.

If restoring rail is a priority, it should be made a direct function of the five regional districts, within the existing transportation bureaucracy. If BC Transit has to be involved, so be it. 

Having a group totally outside the control of the funding government? Not a chance. We’ve got a thirteen-year experiment called BC Ferries that’s showing how bad that can go. 

All that being said, if Vancouver Island truly wants to see more tourists come in, then convert the whole rail to trail.

Imagine a (minimum) two-lane cycleway from Victoria to Campbell River, branching out to Cowichan and Port Alberni.

Imagine saying to cycle-happy tourists from all over the world, not only does Vancouver Island have the most breathtaking scenery - we have a scenic route to take through it.

The ICF claims it wants to improve walking and cycling trails, but they want those trails beside the tracks - not instead of the tracks.

If rail is of historical importance, save a few sections and partner with the existing heritage organizations on the island. 

But make the rest of that beautifully pre-graded and maintained route into something future generations can benefit from.

With $20 million in local, provincial, and federal monies, that might even be something achievable.