ICF February Update

It has been a few months since we last provided and update on the activities of the Island Corridor Foundation. It has been an exciting but also challenging few months for us!

 

The Premier called a meeting of the “Stakeholders”, to discuss the future of the corridor, which was held on December 10, 2018. The meeting was attended by First Nations, Regional District Representatives, and Municipal leaders. As the owners of the corridor, we were pleased to be invited to this meeting. There was a very robust discussion with several views and visions put forward. There was no consensus as to what the future of the corridor should be as it became clear that in order to be successful any development of the corridor needed to address the differences in the regions where the corridor runs. That being said, overwhelmingly participants did agree on the following points:

 

a)       The reinstatement of rail to the entire island is a critical infrastructure project that will provide long term economic, social, and environmental benefit to the residents of Vancouver Island.

b)      A commitment is required from the Province to move forward with reinstatement of rail service on the entire corridor including Victoria to Courtenay and Nanaimo to Port Alberni

c)       It is understood the project can be completed in phases and the first phase should concentrate on the urgent needs of the Capital Regional District with work continuing until rail service is reinstated on the entire corridor.

d)      The project must move forward quickly to avoid delays emanating from the Federal election.

e)      The Province needs to work collaboratively with the Island Corridor Foundation and other agencies to bring this project to completion.

 

Shortly after the Stakeholders meeting we were very pleased to be contacted by Minister Trevena, wherein she advised the Province had heard the Stakeholders, and were prepared to move forward with the ICF to do an assessment of the corridor, to ascertain its current condition. We readily agreed as an assessment is required as a critical first step in getting this project off the ground.

 

Early in January we met with Ministry staff wherein they introduced an outline of an assessment, that in our view is far more in-depth than is required and will take far longer to complete than it should. This was an RFP based on the same RFP that resulted in the IBI study from 2010. They advised that the assessment would not be as in-depth as the IBI study however it would still take until October of 2019 to be completed. In addition, once completed, the assessment would then be fed into the South Island Transportation Study, slated for completion in March of 2020, to determine if rail is even required. Assuming there is a decision to reinstate rail, there will be another round of RFP’s for the design of the service and likely another for the actual upgrades to the corridor. Given this timetable, with no delays, we do not see rail starting until at least the spring of 2021 or later.

 

While we agree with the need for the assessment, we certainly do not agree with the approach, or the timing. We believe any railroad construction company can complete an assessment of the corridor within 21 days. In addition, we also believe that service design can and should be completed in parallel to the assessment. If that approach were taken, we could see rail service in place on the island well before the release of the South Island Transportation Study.

 

In recent public comments the Minister stated, “The ministry is also committed to working with members from indigenous communities up and down the corridor to ensure all governing partners are a part of any future decisions surrounding this corridor.” Certainly the ICF understands the concerns of our First Nations partners, and the governing partners the Minister refers to. The ICF is constituted with the 14 First Nations along the corridor, and each of the Regional Districts on the island, they share equal numbers of seats on our Board. We own the corridor, and we represent the parties to which the Minister refers, so she can be assured by working with the ICF, any future decisions surrounding this corridor are being carefully considered by those she mentions.

 

So what are the next steps?

 

We have been working with our members in an effort to have the Province reconsider its approach to restoring rail service to the island, and also to bring the project timelines into line with the expectations established at the Stakeholder’s meeting.

 

During our town hall meetings, and through social media, many of you have asked how you can help. Contact your local MLA, the Minister, or the Premier, either by telephone or in writing, to express your support for getting this project moving. Of course, you can also write to local newspapers or community publication in support of moving this project forward without delay.

 

We know the only way this happens is with your support and we do appreciate it! We will continue to work on your behalf and will keep you posted as to how things progress.

 

7 thoughts on “ICF February Update

  1. Continuous delays by our province, which will lead into the federal election and then the next provincial election and we will be at our next municipal election with no set framework in place. This is NOT co-operation but a stall strategy. I am extremely disappointed in our Premier.

    Keep up the good fight Larry.

  2. On the Greater Vancouver side of things most provincial infrastructure money is going to Skytrain. One route is from Surrey to Langley reaching out another addition to the system. Vancouver City voted to build Skytrain from Grandview Station to UBC. Unfortunately, this is taking funds that could have been used for the Island Corridor. I think this is causing the government to keep studying theories on the Isalnd Rail proposals while The Mayors Council at Translink try to harness gridlock here. What the Corridor could try is Skytrain too. If it is going to be built in pieces it is a good solution. Over here there are bike and walkways under the Skytrain line which is above all level crossings and faster with more stops. It would be like buying the bundle. This would also satisfy the biker trail train argument. Southern Rail of Vancouver Island would never be in the way if they wanted to fix the track for freight. The right of way is big enough for both. Yesterday I had an email from the Mayor of Vancouver who was just leaving for Ottawa to make Vancouver more important and push Surrey back. If it works out Trudeau can appoint the funds so Translink has to spend it his way. This is a east west dog fight of who gets the bone first. I have no idea who has the trump card with this wheeling and dealing. All is obvious how the Island Corridor has funding restrictions due to two elephants in the room and leaving the corridor with peanut shells. I can see the Langford rail going forward but as a B.C. Transit project. They may to have the dummy hand but its not time to look.

  3. This is the second time the Premier has done a 180 on his willingness to support Island Rail since last summer. I’m not convinced the return of rail is simply about making noise. The premier’s position is quite clear, not interested. Luke warm at best. I feel ICF has failed to convince him by not acknowledging the importance of the millennial vote, now the most influential demographic in any election. As far as I can understand the millennials are pro commuter-rail while the ICF position has been bring back the same plan that failed in the past. If we have a chance at this we must bend more to the premier’s strength. THE MILLENIALS .

  4. Hello,

    I worked for Canadian Pacific Railway for several years as a train Conductor in multiple locations across Canada. During that time I had the opportunity to operate commuter trains for the AMT (Agence Metropolitaine de Transport). I also have a degree in Logistics of transportation.

    I believe my professional and academic background could be asset for your foundation therefore I would like to offer my service to Island Corridor Foundation.

    Feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.

    Thanks
    Pat
    778-676-1489

  5. From Qualicum Beach
    Simply put…I support the Island Corridor Foundation. If they are saying we can complete an “assessment” of the current status of the rail and the expected cost of upgrades sooner rather than later……then the Government should “bend” to the people’s desire here on Vancouver Island that has supported them over these many years.

    We need a coordinated voice though and we need to let them know that the voters on this Island mean business.

    Having said that….before we go marching forward…we also need a strong sense of WHAT is being proposed and the anticipated cost on a phased basis…

    If the plan is to grow revenues from freight…let’s see more of that vision…the Government would likely be happy to see that too.

  6. I would say they should allow small business to operate on the line in the mean time to keep the railroad line alive or they will loose it to a trail……..

  7. Good comments above! I think ICF would benefit from a 3 person group who specialize in understanding the different government agencies responsible for transportation and the allocation of funds and can organize a political strategy for the ICF. There needs to be momentum and energy to accompany an ICF rail plan to service both freight and passengers and relieve the road congestion. Perhaps one strategy would be to aim for Victoria to Nanaimo for starters which would suit a lot of working commuters as well.
    So let’s go…

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