The E&N dayliner crosses Admirals Road in Esquimalt when it was up and running in 2006.

Developer wants commuter rail service up and running in one year

Esquimalt mayor cautiously optimistic about project

If all goes according to plan, by this time next year commuters from the West Shore will be arriving in Victoria West by train along the E&N Rail corridor.

It’s a plan that prominent developer Ken Mariash, owner of Focus Equities, has been working on for the last six to eight months, meeting regularly with key stakeholders in the region such as city mayors.

As the developer behind Bayview Place (located adjacent to the Inner Harbour), bringing a commuter rail service is something Mariash has had his eye on ever since planning began for the Roundhouse Marketplace — a development that offers a mix of retail, culture and gathering places in Vic West.

Mariash has read through numerous studies done over the years on a commuter rail service in the region and has hired a bunch of engineering firms to further look at the idea. If the project gets off the ground, he’d provide a station inside the Roundhouse site.

“It’s not very complicated,” said Mariash, noting the capital cost to get everything up and running is about $7 million to $10 million — something he calls pocket change compared to some of the other infrastructure projects his company has done with developments in Calgary and Edmonton.

“All the mayors have been enormously helpful. They come here regularly and keep this moving along. It’s just a matter of somebody providing the initiative.”

Even though some details have yet to be ironed out, Mariash feels confident he’s come up with a proven business case.

The cost to run the service would be about $3 million to $4 million a year, with half of that recaptured through ridership. Tickets would cost between $2 to $4 one way, attracting about 1,000 people per day (to start) on the 15 kilometers of track that would have one or two stops in between Langford and Vic West. Scheduling would be every half hour to an hour, depending on the demand.

As for the train equipment, Mariash is currently looking at five or six different suppliers, new or used. Who would operate the rail has yet to be determined, but Mariash pointed to either one of the municipalities, the Capital Regional District (CRD), B.C. Transit, or another existing transit provider such as Southern Rail, which used to operate a Victoria-Courtenay passenger service on the E&N line on behalf of Via Rail. The brakes were put on that service in 2011 due to concerns with the condition of bridges and track along the line.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins has been down this road before. When she first became mayor in 2008, there was a group looking at commuter rail from Langford to Victoria. A study was done and other organizations have tried to revive the project since then. But at the end of the day, Desjardins said the cost or lack of organization among the region prevented things from moving forward.

This time Desjardins feels cautiously optimistic talks will actually turn into a reality. Mayors across the region know they’ll be facing the perfect storm with the construction of the McKenzie interchange during the next two years, she noted, which has helped facilitate more serious discussions for ways to ease traffic congestion and focus on one section of the track.

“Everybody is pulling together to try and get something on the track…by having a key land owner who has a key piece of property, and a man of his stature come to the table, Ken can help us move this along,” said Desjardins, noting the CRD is also looking at a regional transportation service.

“All of the players are willing to come and sit at the table this time. We haven’t seen that before…It’s a huge opportunity, but we need to take it step by step and make sure we do it right because we won’t have another chance.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

420 celebrations turn over new leaf at B.C. legislature

Cannabis is legal for the first time in the 21-year existence of the 420 event in Victoria

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids’ Sake returns to Langford

Annual fundraising event held from April 26 to 28

VIDEO: ‘Stewie the Starfish’ mascot revealed at Premier League kickoff party

Pacific FC kickoff party scores in Victoria Inner Harbour

Report calls on Saanich to expand multicultural programming at recreation facilities

Report also notes that Saanich could do more for sexual minorities.

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Most Read