When Norske announced that they would move their freight business to truck in 2002 there was considerable concern about the future of rail service on Vancouver Island. Without some significant intervention, it is likely that rail service would be abandoned and the property sold off in parcels to private interests, forfeiting the benefits of a continuous corridor forever.
Cowichan Tribes had the foresight to see the potential of what preserving the corridor and rail service could mean to First Nations. At the same time, the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) saw the potential for Island communities. In an extraordinary collaboration between local government and First Nations, the two groups invited all interested parties to participate in two round tables on the future of rail on Vancouver Island to discuss the situation.
The second round table resulted in the formation of the Vancouver Island Rail Initiative. This core group of visionaries prepared a number of studies around the feasibility of retaining the CPR assets and improving rail service.
What evolved was the current collaboration between regional districts and First Nations in a community ownership model. A strong consensus was formed around the vision of a charitable foundation that would be responsive to the communities along the right-of-way.
The Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) was incorporated in early 2004, signaling a partnership of unprecedented magnitude between the Regional Districts and First Nations. In December 2004, the Foundation was granted registered charity status. As a charity, ICF will be able to issue tax receipts for gifts received from organizations and individuals.
A lot of people and organizations helped take ICF from a ‘nice idea’ to a Foundation on the verge of accomplishing a historic achievement. The Board of Directors would like to thank all of its supporters for their time and dedication, without which this project would not have been possible.