Cowichan taxpayers are being asked to chip in to a $3.2-million pot to repair 48 bridges on the E&N rail line and get commuter-passenger service rolling again.

Cowichan taxpayers are being asked to chip in to a $3.2-million pot to repair 48 bridges on the E&N rail line and get commuter-passenger service rolling again.

Cowichanians to take rail-bridge tax hit in 2013

Regional committee approves $488,100 as Cowichan's share of $3.2 million to get intercity passenger service on track

Cowichan homeowners will pay about $9 next year to get island intercity passenger-rail service back on track, a committee of regional directors unanimously decided Wednesday.

That $9 breaks down to $3.12  per $100,000 of assessed property value, so owners of a $300,000 home would chip $9.12 into fixing 48 bridges on the decaying E&N line between Courtenay and Victoria.

It total, Cowichanians will contribute $488,100 as a one-time grant-in-aid for $3.2 million in bridge renovations by owner the Island Corridor Foundation.

Approval of the valley’s portion is expected by the Cowichan Valley Regional District board on Nov. 14, chairman Rob Hutchins said.

He cited economic opportunities, reduced oil use, and saving the corridor for future generations as reasons for Cowichan’s nod.

“With peak oil, we know the price of gas won’t be going down. As population and density increases, trains become a very viable means of moving people and goods.”

Three other districts voting about the tax ask, totalling $2 million, include Nanaimo, Comox, and Alberni.

Comox and Alberni have also approved their share in principal, ICF’s Graham Bruce said.

The capital regional is being asked for $1.2 million.

“I’d like to get the work started by spring,” said Bruce.

“Our best chance for passenger service is fall of 2013. We’ve still got the capital and Nanaimo regions to deal with, and negotiating a new train system with Via.”

Tax hikes could span five years.

CVRD is targeting its tax hit for 2013 to duck delays and interest charges, staff explained Wednesday.

The $3.2 million will join $15 million from provincial and federal coffers to repair tracks and other stuff on the E&N on which passenger service was sidetracked last year due to safety issues.

Freight rail still runs slowly on the 225-kilometre line.

A return of passenger service would spell long-promised passenger, excursion, and tourist runs between Victoria and Courtenay, plus more freight hauling.

A total of about $104 million is ultimately needed to bring the train corridor up to full snuff, ICF brass has said.

CVRD Director Lorern Duncan (Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora) said the revamped line will allow leveraging of more government funds, and see local work done.

But he questioned when a fully equipped, inspected line will realistically start.

“I see the commuter from Langford in, but not from Nanaimo down at this time.

“The population up here isn’t that great,” Duncan said.

“The amount of work needed from Courtenay to Langford is quite large, and I’m not sure if we can overcome safety issues on that stretch —

there’s a whole pile of unknowns.

“We really want commuter service but needs up here are different than down in the CRD.”

Baby steps, explained Bruce.

“This is phase one. Commuter rail would be a totally separate initiative with a different train. This is about intercity passenger service from Victoria to Courtenay, and improving tracks to run on schedule.”

A very rough intercity schedule could see early-morning passenger service start in Nanaimo, reaching Victoria around 7:45 a.m.

It would leave Victoria for Courtenay at 8 a.m., arrive at 12:30 p.m., then head back to the capital at 1 p.m., arriving at 5 p.m., then head for Nanaimo at 6 p.m., explained Bruce.

Just Posted

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

CVRD to increase enforcement after audits reveal that curb-side recycling contamination in the district is well above acceptable limits. (File photo)
CVRD reports contamination in recyclables well above acceptable levels

Increased enforcement planned starting this summer

A conceptual rendering of the commercial plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road. (Town of Ladysmith/June 15 Council Agenda)
Rocky Creek commercial plaza passes public hearing

The proposed plaza at 1130 Rocky Creek Road would bring commercial activity to Ladysmith’s north end

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Most Read