Letters of Support

Over the past week we have received hundreds of letters of support to bring back passenger service to Vancouver Island here are just a few;
Jonathan Whitworth, Chief Executive Officer, Seaspan

Dear Minister Raitt,
RE: Island Corridor Passenger Rail Service
It was a pleasure to meet with you yesterday.
On behalf of Seaspan and in particular our Victoria Shipyard employees at the Esquimalt Graving Dock, I’d like to express our strong support of the proposed Island Corridor Passenger Rail service.
We have over 1,000 employees working at the Esquimalt Graving Dock which is located along the E&N Line.  These employees reside in lower Vancouver Island with the majority living in the western communities and the communities north of the Malahat.  Parking and ever increasing commute times are their number one concern.  With over 2,000 people working on the Canadian Forces Bases next to our yard, the traffic congestion in the area is a huge challenge. Unfortunately, there is no viable alternative at this time as any existing transit service is lengthy and inconvenient.  We see the implementation of a daily passenger rail service as having the potential to alleviate these issues and also greatly reduce the vehicle congestion on the Island Highway into and out of Greater Victoria.  The proposed enhanced service between Nanaimo and Victoria would provide  a convenient solution for our employees, and it would also have a positive impact on the environment with the reduction of vehicle emissions.
Our employees are keenly following this issue since we first communicated our support of the project to the Prime Minister in 2012.  I urge you to approve the funding request for track upgrades for the E&N Line and request you have VIA Rail sign the improved train service agreement by the end of August 2013.
Jonathan Whitworth
Chief Executive Officer

Brian Thacker, Owner, Pacific Industrial & Marine LTD

Dear Minister Raitt,
Our Company with 35 employees would like put forward STRONG SUPPORT for the reinstatement of Vancouver Island Rail.
The benefits are greater than the cost to:

  • Tourism – there are many possibilities where the rail line could benefit tourism
  • Island Traffic – Victoria traffic congestion needs all the extra options available to assist
  • To benefit the commuter – with Greyhound cutting schedules it would leave the commuter more options
  • Heritage that would never be able to be re-introduced once gone

It would be a great loss and a great waste to deactivate this rail line.
Brian Thacker
PACIFIC Industrial & Marine Ltd.

Fred Pattje, Councillor, City of Nanaimo

Dear Prime Minister,
Not so long ago Minister Van Loan came to Nanaimo, cheque in hand for the Nanaimo Port Authority in order to improve their handling of container shipments, this in the context of Asia Pacific trading and shipping.
You may ask why I am starting my request to you, to exhort Via Rail, at arm’s length as they may be, to get going with Vancouver Island passenger rail service, with the above first paragraph, so please allow me to explain.
While the Island Corridor Foundation has done amazing work thus far, to make sense of a renewed passenger rail service between Courtenay, Nanaimo, Victoria and points in between, it is a fact of life that freight shipping is the bread and butter of railway operations in almost every conceivable situation.
With that and the future in mind, it is inconceivable to me that your Government would not see the value of freight shipping possibilities, such as container shipments from Annacis Island in New Westminster by barge, to a rail connection from Nanaimo to Port Alberni, thereby cutting valuable shipping time between Canada’s West and practically all of Asia.
None of this will ever happen if we lose the rails, and we certainly will be losing them if Via Rail is not spurred into action, by the end of August of this year, to become serious about assisiting this Island in regaining the passenger rail service it deserves!
Fred Pattje
City of Nanaimo

Francis Blundel, Resident of View Royal

Moving people and goods by train on the Island corridor is desperately needed now and for the future.
The people and businesses of Vancouver Island need an alternative to the congested, accident-prone Trans-Canada Highway. A new Island Highway would be financially and environmentally outrageously expensive.
The people of Vancouver Island are extremely fortunate that the Island Corridor Foundation owns what was the E&N right of way and rail track from Victoria to Courtenay. We are also fortunate that, for a fraction of the cost of a new highway, the ICF can start moving passengers and freight along the Island Corridor, which will relieve congestion on the Trans-Canada Highway between Victoria and the Western Communities and over the Malahat. It will also reduce traffic congestion, pollution and parking problems in downtown Victoria.
The federal government and its Crown corporation, Via Rail, should listen to the people and mayors of Vancouver Island and co-operate with the ICF to achieve a low-cost solution to the major transportation problems on Vancouver Island by restoring upgraded, properly run train transportation on the Island railway corridor.
All the people on Vancouver Island should follow their local governments by writing letters to the federal and provincial transportation ministers, and Island MLAs and MPs requesting co-operation on rail transportation on the Island corridor.
Francis Blundel

Steve Koerner, Resident of Victoria

Dear Prime Minister Harper,
I am one of the many people here on Vancouver Island who strongly supports the plan to restore passenger rail service on the E&N railway.  As you probably know, that service was suspended over two years ago because of the poor condition of the track and other infrastructure.
As you probably also know, the Island Corridor Foundation, owner of the E&N and the rail corridor that runs from Victoria to Courtenay, has a plan with the necessary funding lined up which will enable the necessary repairs to the E&N track and infrastructure that could restore our rail passenger service in the near future.  All that remains at this point is for an agreement to be negotiated between the ICF and VIA Rail.
Unfortunately, although the ICF tabled a formal offer with VIA to re-instate passenger rail services, no reply has yet been received, even though the offer was made months ago.
Consequently, I urge you intervene as soon as possible and have VIA Rail sign the improved train service agreement by the end of August 2013. Without VIA Rail’s participation the infrastructure funding will be lost and it is likely all rail service will subsequently end on Vancouver Island.
I look forward to your reply – and for some action to be taken by you and your government to restore our much needed Vancouver Island passenger rail service.
Yours Sincerely,
Steve Koerner

 Larry Cross, President of AVICC

 Dear  Mr.  Laliberté:
The  Association  of  Vancouver  Island  Coastal  Communities  (AVICC)  represents  the  interests   of   its   51   member   municipalities,   regional   districts   and   other   local  governments  of  Vancouver  Island,  Sunshine  Coast,  Powel  River  and  Central  Coast.      Reintroducing  passenger  service  is  very  important  to  our  island  members  in  terms  of  the  overall  economy  and  wellbeing  of  communities  on  Vancouver  Island.    The  Island  Corridor  Foundation  and  our  members  have  worked  hard  to  get  all  the  pieces  in  place  to  enable  passenger  rail  service  to  be  reinstituted  and  we  are  seeking  your  support  in  finding  a  viable  service  alternative  that  meets  the  needs  of  all  parties.
We  understand  that  Southern  Railway  of  BC  submitted  a  proposal  in  the  spring  for  the  reintroduction  of  passenger  service.    Passenger  service  is  a  critical  component  to  the   viability   of   island   rail   as   an   overall   service   to   communities.    AVICC   members  strongly  support  the  proposal  that  has  been  put  forward  offering  an  early  morning  train  originating  out  of  Nanaimo  approximately  6:00am  heading  southbound  arriving  at  Victoria  around  8am.  The  train  would  then  depart  Victoria  arriving  at  Courtenay  approximately  12:30pm  and  then  make  an  afternoon  run  back  to  Victoria  for  a  5:30pm  arrival.  It  would  depart Victoria  at  6pm  for  an  8pm  Nanaimo  arrival.    This  service
would  provide  a  valuable  alternative  to  commuters,  tourists  and the  general  public  to  transit  between  these  communities.
Local   government   members   and   their   communities   acknowledge   that   adequate  funding  and  a  sound  business  plan  are  key  to  being  able  to  offer  services  that  are  efficient,  valuable  and  sustainable.    Effective  communication  between  the  parties  and  the  desire  to  work  collaboratively  is  imperative  to  being  able  to  achieve  what  we  hope  is  a  common  goal  of  offering  an  effective  and  sustainable  passenger  rail  service  to  communities  on  Vancouver  Island.
At  this  time,  we  ask  for  your  commitment  to  review  the  Southern  Railway  proposal  with  a  view  that  it  has  the  potential  of  being  a  viable  service  for  Via  Rail  and  reopen  the  dialogue  with  Southern  Railways  and  the  Island  Corridor  to  clarify  questions, discuss  concerns  and  work  together  to  problem  solve  in  order  to  reach  a  passenger  service  agreement  that  incorporates  a  strong  business  plan.    If  at  the  end  of  the  day  the  business  case  is  sound  but  is  not  within  the  budget  that  has  been  allocated  to  Via  Rail  for  island  passenger  service,  then  we  need  to  know  so  that  we  can  have  further  discussions  with  our  partners.
There  has  been  much  discussion  of  late  about  deadlines,  but  the  reality  is  that  all  parties  are  challenged  with  holding  on  to  funding  that  has  been  set  aside  for  island  rail  service  and,  as  time  passes,  the  infrastructure  itself  continues  to  decline.    In
particular,  the  regional  funding  is  tied  to  the  2013  and  2014  years  and  may  not  be  able  to  be  carried  over  because  of  a  lack  of  decision-­‐making.    The  winter  season  is  also
cost  effective  timing  to  have  the  rail  infrastructure  work  completed.    It  would  be  expedient  to  conclude  discussions  to  allow  for  this  work  to  be  done  in  the  winter  of  2013.  Therefore,  time  is  of  the  essence  and  we  are  asking  that  you  respond
We  appreciate  your  consideration  of  our  request  and  look  forward  to  hearing  that  frank  discussions  are  in  process.
Mayor  Larry  Cross

Mayor John Douglas, City or Port Alberni

Dear Mr. Laliberté:
RE:       Southern Railway of BC Proposal
We are in receipt of a letter written by Mayor Larry Cross, President of AVICC and are in support of the efforts put forth by the Island Corridor Foundation and its members to reintroduce rail service on Vancouver Island.
Local government members and their communities acknowledge that adequate funding and a sound business plan are key to being able to offer services that are efficient, valuable and sustainable.  Effective communication between the parties and the desire to work collaboratively is imperative to being able to achieve what we hope is a common goal of offering an effective and sustainable  rail service to communities on Vancouver Island.
We kindly ask for your commitment to review the Southern Railway proposal with a consideration that it has the potential of being a viable service for Via Rail and reopen the dialogue with Southern Railways and the Island Corridor to clarify questions, discuss concerns and work together to problem solve in order to reach a  service agreement that incorporates a strong business plan.  If at the end of the day the business case is sound but is not within the budget that has been allocated to Via Rail for island  service, then we need to know so that we can have further discussion with our partners.
Port Alberni, as well as the Alberni Valley is embarking on a future economic path which will soon embrace a new Asia Pacific Gateway initiative. As well as becoming a regional distribution centre for Vancouver Island Transportation corridors such as rail will hopefully have a key role to play in this development over the next few decades.  We invite you to the opportunity of being a partner in this endeavour.
We are hopeful that all parties can come together and support rail service on Vancouver Island.
Yours truly
Mayor John Douglas

David A. McCormick, Director, Public Relations & Business Development, Port Alberni Port Authority 

Dear Mr. Laliberté:
On behalf of the Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) I express its support of the efforts of  Island Corridor Foundation and Southern Railway to develop a viable, sustainable, passenger rail service on Vancouver Island. Therefore, PAPA strongly encourages VIA Rail to review the proposal by Southern Railway and engage in an open-minded dialogue towards assessing the feasibility of its business model.
PAPA is presently focused on the development of both a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal and a Container Trans-Shipment Terminal to be co-situated in the Alberni Inlet.  Both of these projects will require substantive capital and human resources to construct.  With a present population base of approximately 25,000 people within the Alberni Valley these projects will require the sourcing of the skilled labour that exists throughout Vancouver Island.  The existence of a reliable passenger rail service that can effectively and efficiently move a skilled labour force throughout the region will be of great benefit towards not only the construction of these projects but, ultimately, meeting their ongoing labour requirements.
Vancouver Island is increasingly becoming a cohesive market of a singular regional trading zone; not unlike the Windsor-Toronto and Montreal-Ottawa corridors.  Many families have members living in one community but working in others separate and distinct from each other and from where they live.  This is a trend that is expected to continue.  We also believe this is a trend that is important to the economic development and diversification of all communities on Vancouver Island, such as Port Alberni into the future.  Thus, not only are more efficient and effective means to transport people becoming more important for economic, environmental and social reasons, this necessity also creates strong business opportunities for those companies that share in the vision and contribute progressively to the future that PAPA, Island Corridor Foundation and Southern Railway sees for Vancouver Island.
PAPA looks forward to supporting Island Corridor Foundation and is happy to provide any further information about our projects that may assist Via Rail to give greater consideration to the proposal forwarded by Southern Railway in support of a passenger rail service on Vancouver Island.
David A. McCormick, MBA
Director, Public Relations & Business Development
Port Alberni Port Authority 

Randall Garrison, MP – Esquimalt Juan de Fuca

Dear Minister Raitt
Today’s Victoria Times Colonist has a banner headline urging the public to put pressure on you and the government to encourage VIA Rail to enter into discussions about the immediate need for a passenger rail deal here on Vancouver Island.
The Island Corridor Foundation has a private operator, “Southern Railway of BC,” that is ready to negotiate with Via Rail.  Indeed they submitted a proposal in April in an attempt to get Via to negotiate – to date no reply!
The Island Corridor Foundation is a non-profit corporation run on behalf of local governments and First Nations along the E&N route from Victoria to Courtenay.  It took ownership of the E&N line in 2006 after it was donated by Canadian Pacific Railway and Rail America.
One of the primary beneficiaries of the resumption of E&N rail service would be capital region commuters who need to get from the Westshore to Dockyards and Esquimalt Naval Base.  These two employers have thousands of workers who live in the Westshore and would use the E&N to get to work – work that includes the federal government program to build Naval ships for the Canadian government.  We already face severe congestion at peak traffic times, a problem that will only get worse as the new jobs at the Shipyards come on line.
As Minister responsible for Via Rail, I urge you to encourage them to negotiate with Island Corridor Foundation and Southern Railway of BC so that commuters on southern Vancouver Island can again access the E&N railway to improve transportation, green commuting and business and tourism development on Vancouver Island.
Randall Garrison, MP
Esquimalt Juan de Fuca