John McKinley & Craig SpenceBlack Press
Rail service on Vancouver Island got the support of a majority of municipal politicians April 9 in Nanaimo.
Delegates to the annual Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities conference voted in a show of hands by an approximately two to one margin to urge the federal government to release the $7.5 million it has promised to upgrade the tracks.
While the vote is largely symbolic, it did send the message that a majority of communities still endorse the idea of a Vancouver Island rail system, despite recent concerns expressed by the Capital Regional District and the Regional District of Nanaimo.
Victoria’s Ben Isitt said there is no advanced country in the world is without a high-quality rail system and forward-thinking communities need to embrace rail as a better economic and ecological option for the future.
“It’s been an incredible battle. If we walk away now, everything will fail,” Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula said.
Jangula is also a member of the Island Corridor Foundation board. Owners of the railway, the ICF was the subject of the second rail-related motion on the AVICC agenda. The CRD was calling for a review of its governance and finances.
AVICC directors halted the debate of resolutions just before that one hit the floor Saturday, but on Sunday they passed a resolution that “the AVICC work with impacted local governments and the ICF board to conduct a financial and governance review of the Island Corridor Foundation.
That, despite a comment from the AVICC executive that it ‘does not have the capacity to take this on’ because it has ‘not in the past been involved in conducting financial and governance reviews.’
See ICF, Page 3
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On Monday, April 11, the ICF issued a release expressing satisfation “with the stong support for rail on Vancouver Island expressed by local government.”
The release says the ICF Dirctors ‘have met with the AVICC executive in the past and will continue to meet with them to build their relationship and work on common issues.’
Said ICF Co-Chair Dr. Judith Sayers, “The ICF and AVICC has always had a very poisitve relationship and we value their input.”
She noted that with 11 First Nations, five regional districts and 14 municipalities along the line “there are obviously varying regional and local concerns.”