Restoring freight and passenger rail service on southeastern Vancouver Island could cost about $729 million, according to a new report commissioned by the provincial government. Others are barely visible, split open by the rocks and gravel bursting up through their rotted cores, or seeming to vanish beneath blankets of moss. Based on ridership fares for those two services, the report estimated that a renewed Vancouver Island passenger rail service would be broken into zones ranging from between $4 and $6 one way for a trip from Langford to Victoria, up to between $21 and $27 for the full trip from Courtenay to Victoria. Construction of the railway was We reimagine public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors. “This determination should not be mistaken for an invitation to delay progress but as a clarion call to move forward with restoration of rail service,” the statement said. The trail has been ranked among the top ten. Photos and videos by Jesse Winter. “When you have rail, you start discovering that there’s a whole bunch of people that need it: low income people, elderly people, young people,” he says. In July, the B.C. “You will get off your bus and then have to wait 45 minutes for your connection to get anywhere, so you always have to be an hour early.”. In 2016, the Cowichan Tribes and Halalt First Nation filed lawsuits seeking their own land back. Ian Morrison, president of the AVICC agrees that with post-COVID recovery plans underway, “investments in [transportation] will benefit all the folks on Vancouver Island,” he says. It left only two private bus company options for non-drivers like her wishing to travel south. “The legacy of the rail is colonialism and its impact on bringing people to [Vancouver] island,” says Brent Edwards, a councillor with the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation. Editor’s Note, Oct. 29, 2020: This story has been updated to reflect the 2020 B.C. Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog is a huge fan of reviving passenger rail, as are other mayors along the corridor. 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. The latest of those studies pegged the cost of reviving it at somewhere between $330 and $730 million – between two and three times higher than previous studies suggested. History of the West Coast Trail. And as we celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway on Vancouver Island , which first ran in 1886, maybe we need a new vision. When the ICF was formed in 2003, the goal was to preserve the rail corridor from being broken up and sold off in pieces. “Whether rails, trails, ferries, transit, these are services people need and use.”. But a year later, the winds had shifted. Nanaimo. It's a good four-hour climb with 1,000 metres in elevation gain on rough but ready trail. Since the day passenger trains stopped running in 2011, there have been repeated promises to bring the service back, and millions of dollars in government-funded studies examining how to make it happen, if at all. government released its latest report assessing the state of the existing track and expected costs to rebuild it. The society’s president Alastair Craighead says the costs to bring back passenger trains are simply too high, and a cycling path would be a better use of the corridor. “It contemplated various different uses and relationships for that corridor,” Edwards said. The railway and land grants were transferred to the CPR and by 1925, the railway was a thriving operation. “The Island Corridor is completely invaluable,” says Guy Dauncey, an advocate of the Rails to Trails proposal. As ship traffic increased in the late 1800s, so did the number of shipwrecks off the treacherous west coast of Vancouver Island. When the lawsuit was first filed in 2015, it was a contributing factor to the federal government pulling back on funding to repair and upgrade the railroad. And almost exactly a year after that, the government’s latest cost estimates were released, reviving the decade-long debate yet again. In recent years, a competing organization called the Friends of Rails to Trails Vancouver Island has begun advocating for the tracks to be ripped out altogether and replaced with a cycling and multiuse pathway, like the Galloping Goose trail in Victoria, or the Kettle Valley Rail Trail in the B.C. As you will see in the map legends,the maps indicate completed trail sections in green, sections of the route using roads in yellow, proposed/projected sections of trail in olive green, and sections over water in blue. Current proposals would solve that problem by reversing the train direction, making it more appealing to mid-island residents. Province agreed to give Vancouver Island. As the superintendent of the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island (SVI), it’s Kutaj’s job to know the track intimately. He believes that rebuilding the rail line could be the perfect stimulus project because construction could begin almost immediately and put people back to work. The Foundation recognizes the importance of this corridor as a link that connects communities economically, socially and culturally. And with a provincial election now behind us, its future still remains uncertain. But the larger questions of who really owns the land and how it should be used are still disputed, he says. Cathedral Grove. 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. The BIKE: Galloping Goose Rail Trail (59 km) HIKE: Juan de Fuca Trail (42 km) HIKE: Della Falls (30 km) HIKE: North Coast Trail (79 km) HIKE: Vancouver Island Trail (700 km) HIKE: Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet; Lower Mainland. Using lower contingency budgets and a hybrid of the middle and most expensive options laid out in the April report, Stevenson says passenger service could be restored along the line, including three daily commuter trains near Victoria, for around $300 million. In early 2020, the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation received letters of support for its lawsuit from nine of the 14 ICF member nations all saying they want to see the land returned to reserve status and controlled by the original First Nations owners, says Edwards. In "On top … permission, on the condition that “It’s incumbent upon the [ICF] board of directors to really speak to the fact that there are other uses contemplated for the corridor,” Edwards says. Renewing passenger service, he says, is about allowing people like Nelson the same freedom that’s enjoyed by people who drive cars. While the Snaw-Naw-As case has been dismissed, the ICF acknowledges the grievance. Goldstream Provincial Park. Hike Galloping Goose Regional Trail and take in thick forests covered in fern and moss as you journey through Canadian wilderness. “Public transit here is just perfectly awful,” Nelson says. Autumn vignettes along a cycling trail: Vancouver Island. And some First Nations along the route have gone to court to … The Vancouver Island Dirt Riders Association (VIDRA) supports the growth and sustainability of off-road dirtbiking for racers and recreational riders on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. “That’s the truth because it can’t compete with roads in so many ways.”. Residents were essentially split: the responses ranged from “Bring back that passenger train!” to assertions that “rail is a fantasy, there is no economic model that would make passenger service work on Vancouver Island.”. Interior. Under the most recent proposals, residents as far north as Nanaimo could conceivably commute to work in Victoria and back. Galloping Goose Trail, Victoria Victoria’s Galloping Goose Trail is an old 1920s railway converted into a 55-km path, winding its way through most of the city. Corridor communities generally support the development of rail-with-trails, recognizing the tremendous value for recreation opportunities and promotion of active transportation. West will remain even after completion of the E&N Trail – the trail will descend from the rail corridor to road grade at this juncture) The E&N Trail … kilometers from Esquimalt to Proponents of reviving passenger rail say it will kick-start the economies of communities along the line by providing easy, car-free access up and down the island to travellers and tourists. Everyone in town started believing that passenger rail was right around the corner, Nelson says. ~ Andre Sullivan, Chair – Nanaimo Region Rail Trail Partnership. Like Nelson, many people said that renewed passenger service would be a huge benefit to people who can’t afford to drive cars, while others worried that renewed service would continue to flounder with low ridership like the old service did. 1,333 reviews. For Locals Locals would utilize the trails for local commuting or pleasure while avoiding the hazards, congestion and noise of the road. Overview. That report pegged the price tag at somewhere between $330 and $730 million, and laid out a phased approach to first renewing, and later expanding, passenger rail service. If The Discourse’s pop-up coverage resonates, please subscribe to our email updates to let us know if you want us to stick around. In 2016, her hopes rose again when the Island Corridor Foundation (which owns the rail line on behalf of the regional districts and First Nations along its length) held a special heritage train ride marking the rail line’s 130th anniversary. In late September, the ICF sent a letter to the premier questioning why the foundation was not consulted as a stakeholder and why rail has been left out of the strategy. 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. 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