The E&N railway line is approaching 130 years old and in that time, it has seen a fair amount of change. Depending on how you look at it, those changes have been both good and bad.
We need to think of funding this corridor as a positive investment in our transportation future, much like cycling paths, highways and airports, although the latter two have huge negative environmental and social impacts.
The E&N is more than just a railway, it’s a transportation corridor with huge potential to be the backbone of a green transportation system that incorporates transit, rail, car pooling, cycling and walking. Simply calling for the corridor to be converted into a trail adds nothing constructive to the transportation debate, since a trail is already being built alongside.
People who aren’t able to cycle, drive or use the bus would have the ability to travel between urban areas independently. The trail and highway do not accommodate these people’s needs. Imagine the jobs that could be created both directly and indirectly, in the areas of construction, maintenance, tourism, retail, green manufacturing, etc.
Stations in every community can be returned to what they once were – focal points of civic pride, public gathering places and sources of economic prosperity, linked by transit, cycling and walking trails and supported by dense development and green spaces.
But for all of this to happen, a proper plan is needed, one formed by engaging the public, local business and community groups, First Nations and local governments, and partnering with the private sector, provincial and federal governments. It’s time to act.