What is the Island Corridor Foundation?
The Island Corridor Foundation is a non-profit society incorporated in 2003 under Part II of the Canada Corporations Act, and registered as a charity under the Income Tax Act in December 2004. It is a partnership between First Nations and local Governments along the historic E & N corridor. The Board is composed of 12 Directors-5 from First Nations and 5 from Regional Districts, as well as 2 at-large members. As a registered charity, it was able to provide a charitable tax receipt to Canadian Pacific Railway and RailAmerica to enable them to donate their corridor assets.
In 1998, CPR sold the middle part of the corridor to RailAmerica. When RailAmerica’s largest customer decided to discontinue using rail freight in 2001, RailAmerica announced its intention to shut down rail service, sell its assets and leave the Island. Vancouver Island was again faced with the prospect of losing rail service and having the property sold off in parcels to private interests.
Cowichan Tribes saw the wisdom of preserving the corridor and called together First Nations and local communities to find a permanent solution to the ongoing uncertainty of rail service on the Island. This led to the development of the Island Corridor Foundation to preserve the corridor in perpetuity, to broaden community usage of the corridor itself, and to seek an operator willing to rebuild and improve both freight and passenger rail service.
What has the Island Corridor Foundation accomplished?
We have brought together First Nations and local governments to work together for the common goal of preserving the corridor.
We have negotiated an agreement with CPR in which they agreed to donate their assets in the corridor, including track, gravel, rails, trestles, ties, culverts, the land comprising the right of way and 6 railway stations.
In addition, they have agreed to turn over the non-rail revenue generated by leases and encroachments on the line. They will also make a sizeable donation to the Foundation.
We have also negotiated an agreement with RailAmerica in which they donated their portion of the corridor to the Foundation, including track, ties, gravel, culverts, trestles and the right of way.
We have successfully negotiated an agreement with Southern Railway, a highly respected short rail operator, to take over rail operations on the Island as of July 1, 2006. VIA Rail will continue to provide passenger service.
Why do you think you will be successful when neither CPR nor Rail America were profitable?
ICF commissioned a business plan in 2004, which demonstrated that operation of the corridor under ICF ownership was viable. The Plan has been updated to reflect the strong commitments of CPR, RailAmerica and the new rail operator.
It demonstrates that the Foundation will be financially successful in its ability to work with community interests along the right of way, and in its role as landlord and lessor to an experienced rail operator.