Rail funding left in reserve until deal made

by Karl Yu – Nanaimo News Bulletin

With no deal between the Island Corridor Foundation and Via Rail for the E&N rail line, the Regional District of Nanaimo has put off its contribution in 2014.
In 2012, the board agreed to provide approximately $945,000 to the foundation in partnership with other regional districts on Vancouver Island. The money was divided into two payments – $472,500 in 2013 and 2014 – but none of the money has been paid out yet and currently sits in a reserve account, said Paul Thorkelsson, chief administrative officer for the regional district.
He said the return of passenger rail service to Vancouver Island is a major condition of the funding.
With negotiations between the foundation, Via Rail and Southern Rail ongoing, and regional district budget discussions for this year drawing to a close, the 2014 amount has been taken off the table.
“The board made a motion a couple of weeks ago to remove that second packet of funding from the 2014 budget and push it off to 2015,” said Thorkelsson. “They’re not collecting money from the taxpayer in 2014 and still waiting for the conditions that they established for the funding to be satisfied by the ICF, Via Rail and Southern Rail.”
Once a deal is struck, Thorkelsson said the board would be in a position to provide the first payment, with the second payment part of 2015 budget discussions.
He said the regional district board requested a meeting with the foundation but it hasn’t been scheduled yet.
Graham Bruce, chief executive officer for the foundation, declined to comment on whether a deal was imminent.
“Things are moving along and we kind of want to leave it right at that point at the moment,” Bruce said.

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