FAQ’s

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.

Where can I find the foundations Audited Financial statements?
Click here for 2017 financial reporting
Who sits on the ICF Board?
View our current board here
Is the ICF self- supporting?
Yes. The ICF has hundreds of crossing agreements and licenses of occupation that the ICF receives revenues from.
Does ICF charge a fee for crossings?
No, but for Private crossings, the ICF charges an annual land use fee.
Does the ICF receive revenue from inspections of municipal railroad crossings?
No.
Do local governments pay crossing fees?
Yes, the rail line is still considered an ‘operating railroad’. There are road crossing maintenance agreements between all road authorities and the ICF rail operator, Southern Railway of Vancouver Island. Regular safety inspections and required maintenance continue to be performed by the railway operator. Maintenance costs are allocated according to the terms of each individual crossing agreement. Inspection and maintenance of crossings must comply with the requirements of Railway Safety Act and Regulations administered by the British Columbia Safety Authority.
Would cruise ship tours still go to McLean Mill?
Yes there would likely be an increase of visitors to the McLean Mill as most cruise ships carry over 2500 people.
Why can’t you start construction on the track today?
The Foundation requires funding assistance from the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia. The Government of Canada did agree to funding however it has since been cancelled pending resolution of the ongoing litigation with the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation. The ICF will be required to provide updated costs and details on secured funding and the project must be prioritized by the Province of British Columbia.
If trains don’t run, will ICF give the land back?
No. Extensive trail construction as well as many public utilities use the corridor.
Will ICF allow CRD to run a commuter train service?
Yes, work continues in researching a plan for commuter train service between Victoria and Langford. The thirteen mayors within the CRD have called for the reinstatement of rail within the CRD and the Province has undertaken a study that will examine the costs to restore rail service to the entire island, including commuter rail service within the CRD.
Will the commuter train run to Duncan or Shawnigan Lake?
The plan currently under consideration would call for an incremental approach to the restoration of rail service on the island. Should an agreement be reached to move forward the first step would likely for the restoration of service within the CRD and then service between Duncan and Westhills.
Can the money requested from the Federal and Provencal government be used for the commuter train?
Any funding received from Federal and Provincial Governments will contribute to track upgrades that will support all aspects of rail operations on Vancouver island.
Why do municipalities pay crossing fees?
There are road crossing maintenance agreements between all road authorities and the ICF rail operator, Southern Railway of Vancouver Island. Regular safety inspections and required maintenance continue to be performed by the railway operator. Maintenance costs are allocated according to the terms of each individual crossing agreement. Inspection and maintenance of crossings must comply with the requirements of Railway Safety Act and Regulations administered by the British Columbia Safety Authority.
Qualicum Beach council has stated they will not pay maintenance fees until the trains operate again. Are the crossings through Qualicum Beach safe?
Yes the railway company is still undertaking the mandatory inspections and required maintenance.
Does the ICF receive operating funds from governments?
No. ICF operating revenues are derived from land use rents.
Does the ICF receive permissive property tax exemption?
Yes. To ensure the corridor is held in perpetuity for the people of Vancouver Island, the province and municipal governments have granted the ICF property tax exemption. This ensures that the lands stay as a contiguous corridor from Victoria to Courtenay, Duncan to Lake Cowichan and Parksville to Port Alberni, for the purpose of connecting communities by trails and rail.
Does VIA Rail have to be involved in providing passenger service?
VIA is a Federal Crown corporation that is mandated to provide passenger rail service throughout Canada. As is the case with most other transit service,( e.g. bus and ferry), passenger rail is operated with a VIA subsidy that covers the gap between passenger revenues and operational costs. VIA also provides the trains and the liability insurance. VIA contracts with Southern Rail of Vancouver Island to operate the passenger service.
Who is Southern Rail of Vancouver Island?
Southern Rail of Vancouver Island, (SVI), a private commercial rail company, is a subsidiary of Southern Rail Link of British Columbia, a short line rail operator that is part of the Washington Transportation Group. SVI currently moves rail freight on the Island and to and from the mainland. SVI has an operating agreement with ICF to provide rail service on the Island.
Is rail freight still active on the Island?
Rail freight trains are still operational in the Nanaimo area.
Has the ICF considered alternate uses?
Yes, the ICF has worked with the Regional Districts to develop trails alongside the tracks all over the island. We have a comprehensive Rail with Trails Guideline book that was developed with the RDN and the other Regional Districts to ensure that all safety standards are met and members of the various Island Communities have access to beautiful trails on the ICF Right of Way without compromising the existing track infrastructure or railway operations.
The McLean Mill Steam Train runs on ICF track (Alberni sub) between downtown Port Alberni and the Mill site during the summer. This is one of the best tourist train attractions on Vancouver Island.
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.