Connecting the Places We Live, Work, Learn & Play
Where We’re Headed
The Island Corridor Foundation is a non-profit society and federally registered charity established for the purposes of owning and managing the rail corridor on Vancouver Island. The Foundation recognizes the importance of this corridor as a link that connects communities economically, socially and culturally.
Our objectives are to:
- acquire, preserve and develop for purposes of the Foundation the Island Corridor which lies north-south from Victoria to Courtenay and east-west from Nanaimo to Port Alberni and from Duncan to Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island;
- maintain the continuity of the Island Corridor as a continuous special use connection for all communities, while respecting and supporting First Nations interests and traditional lands and uses;
- contribute to safe and environmentally sound passenger and freight rail services along the Railroad;
- create trails, and facilitate opportunities for parks, gardens, greenways and other public areas for use of members of the public along the length of the Island Corridor;
- encourage a flexible infrastructure along the Island Corridor which will encourage a wide range of economic and trade activity for the benefit of all communities lying adjacent to the Island Corridor;
- preserve archaeological resources, historic landmarks, structures, artifacts and historic routes along the Island Corridor for historical purposes and for ongoing and future use by the community;
- conserve the environmental and spiritual features and functions of the Island Corridor in respect of the land, water and natural resources for the general benefit of the public; and do all such charitable activities which are incidental to and beneficial to the attainment of the purposes stated above.
How Far We've Come
The Island railway was originally incorporated on September 27, 1883 by the E&N Railway Company, led by Sir Robert Dunsmuir, a renowned British Columbia (BC) coal baron and politician. To help subsidize construction of the railway, the federal and provincial governments contributed financially towards the project and granted more than 800,000 hectares of land on southeast Vancouver Island to the E&N Railway Company. Construction of the railway was completed in 1886, and the initial rail operation ran for 115 kilometers from Esquimalt to Nanaimo. By the late 1880s, the line was extended into Victoria. In 1905, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) wanted permission from the provincial government to build a line through southeast BC. The Province agreed to give permission, on the condition that CPR take over the Island railway, which at that time was struggling financially. The railway and land grants were transferred to the CPR and by 1925, the railway was a thriving operation.
FIRST NATIONS PARTNERS
A Vision for the Corridor
It came about through the vision of the Cowichan Tribes, Mayors and Councilors from Vancouver Island communities and railway enthusiasts who did not want to see the corridor divided and sold off in parcels to private interests, to be lost forever to the people of the Island.
Because the Corridor serves 14 First Nations territories, it is an essential part of community and business development plans in Aboriginal communities on the Island. The plentiful natural environment that gave birth to the rich cultural traditions of the Coastal Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth and Kwakwakaw’akw people has created abundant opportunities for new cultural industries and tourism.
Improved rail service for freight, passenger and excursion travel and for commuter service will stimulate the growth and development of First Nations’ businesses and communities across the Island.
“Trail development has never been an ‘either/or’ scenario for the ICF; it’s always been rail with trails, and we are truly fortunate to be working with a rail operator that supports us in that.”
~ Andre Sullivan, Chair – Nanaimo Region Rail Trail Partnership
Over the past decade, the ICF has worked closely with corridor communities to create a larger system of rail-with-trails, linking communities and rural areas along the 290-kilometre corridor.
Corridor communities generally support the development of rail-with-trails, recognizing the tremendous value for recreation opportunities and promotion of active transportation.
Rail-with-trail projects make efficient use of rail rights-of-way, transforming often under-utilized spaces into active, non-motorized, multi-use transportation corridors. If well designed; with appropriate setbacks, separations and crossings; rail-with-trails can provide many benefits to both operators and the communities through which the rights-of-way run.
Currently, the discussions continue on the possibility of a commuter train service from Westhills to Victoria. This would likely be the first step in a phased in approach to the restoration of rail service on the entire island and is the focus of the current study the Province has undertaken to determine the condition of the corridor. The second step would include service from Nanaimo to Westhills.
There are several universities, training programs and colleges along or near the route, offering an enormous range of courses and study options, for young and old alike.
Over the past decade, the ICF has worked closely with corridor communities to create a larger system of rail-with-trails, linking communities and rural areas along the 290-kilometre corridor. Corridor communities generally support the development of rail-with-trails, recognizing the tremendous value for recreation opportunities and promotion of active transportation.
We have been relatively quiet over the past couple of months as we await the start of the Province’s corridor assessment. The Province has finally completed the Request for Proposal process, has chosen an engineering firm to lead the assessment, […]
Editorial: We need real investment, not another transportation study
LETTER: Rails not trails on Vancouver Island