Rail to move full steam ahead with regional funding

Passenger rail service agreement close to being finalized: Island Corridor Foundation

The return of rail to Vancouver Island is moving full steam ahead.

As Capital Regional District directors finalize their 2013 budget, the biggest piece of new spending is intended to get passenger rail service back up and running between Victoria and Courtenay.

“I really think it’s important we restore rail, not only for intercity transport, but also for commuter rail,” said Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt, who sits on the CRD’s finance committee that recommended the funding boost last fall.

The Island Corridor Foundation will receive $1.2 million from the CRD and a total of $5.4 million from the five Island regional districts to make necessary bridge and trestle upgrades, with the hope of restoring VIA Rail service between Victoria, Courtenay and Nanaimo, said ICF director Graham Bruce.

“We’re right in the middle of the train service agreement right now,” he said, adding the trains could have early morning service to Victoria.

The federal and provincial governments have also promised $14 million for necessary rail tie replacements and track work.

“If all goes well, work could probably start sometime in May,” Bruce said.

CRD staff are recommending the funding be split into two annual payments of $600,000 to keep 2013 costs contained.

The foundation is open to working with all the regional districts on the best funding model, but conversations will continue to “make sure that works well for us, too,” Bruce said.

The CRD’s 2013 preliminary budget calls for a 2.5-per-cent increase in spending this year. That doesn’t include costs associated with the region’s $783-million secondary sewage treatment project, which will be presented separately to the wastewater committee in the coming weeks.

“I think most people around the board table realize there’s not a lot of appetite for new spending, and that overall, we should be looking to provide good, cost-effective government and not (be) embarking in new areas,” Isitt said.

Rail is a largely considered an appropriate exception because of its importance in economic development and population growth in the region.

Passenger rail service is only the first step to a revived rail industry on the Island, Bruce said.

“It’s not the end game, it’s the beginning game. If there are demand increases and if we find other opportunities, then we’d operate to suit those as well.”

CRD directors have until March 31 to approve the 2013 budget.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

 

Just Posted

Two new schools coming to Sooke School District

Province provides $23.3 million for land purchase in Langford

CRD acquires more land for Sooke Hills

The purchase helps conserve wilderness character of regional park

LEED gold standard more than a matter of design

West Shore high schools set the bar high

Environment Canada says snow in the forecast for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for flurries and cold air throughout the next week

Old-growth forest discovered outside Port Renfrew

Environmental group reaches out to government for funding to purchase and protect the land

Victoria junior hockey weekend wrapup

WHL Royals slumping, Junior B Cougars look to snag top spot in South

UPDATE: Grizzly bear trophy hunting over in B.C.

Now only Indigenous people can hunt bears for meat

Star Blue Jays announced for Vancouver ‘Winter Tour’ event in January

Toronto’s pro baseball team heads west for two-day event

UPDATE: ‘Multiple fatalities’ as Amtrak derails over the I-5 in Washington State

13 cars jumped the tracks as train made its first voyage between Seattle and Portland

Mental effects of wildfire still linger in Fort McMurray

‘Resilient, but tired:’ Mental effects of wildfire lingering in Fort McMurray

Climate change hits Winter Olympic preparation

AP Exclusive: Climate change hits Winter Olympic preparation

Calgary Flames thump Vancouver Canucks 6-1

Mark Giordano, Sam Bennett lead the way as Flames thump Canucks 6-1

Homicide detectives now probing billionaire couple’s death

Police release cause of death of Barry and Honey Sherman as “ligature neck compression”

Most Read