Monday, July 22, 2024

CRD releases public letter supporting the restoration of Vancouver Island Rail Corridor

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As the fight continues to revitalize the Vancouver Island Rail Corridor ahead of a decisive vote by the federal government this March, representatives of the Capital Region District (CRD) have joined the discussion in favour of restoring the Island rail line. 

In a public letter written to Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Transport, chair representatives, Colin Plant, Aaron Stone, John Jack, and Jesse Ketler express their thoughts on the pending vote. 

“We write to you with a sense of urgency as we are aware a decision on the future of the Island Rail corridor is required in the near future. We believe it is in the national, provincial and regional interests to protect this corridor and advance First Nations reconciliation efforts,” said the CRD.

According to the letter, the increasing population on Vancouver Island and growing numbers of out-of-town commuters are driving factors for the CRD’s advocacy of the rail line as an essential transportation resource.

Spanning 295 kilometres, the rail line covers regional districts where 610,000 people reside. 

As the March vote draws near, ICF president and CEO, Larry Stevenson tells Victoria Buzz that the rail line represents an essential means of public transportation for a growing population on the island that can’t afford or choose not to assume the responsibility of a vehicle. 

“There are huge social equity issues here. We need to find ways to provide options to people to be able to move about and do things that they need to do. We’re talking about the low income folks, elderly people, young people and those that just don’t want to have a car,” says Stevenson. 

Prior to the pending vote, the Regional District Boards across Vancouver Island have publicly supported ICF’s request made to the federal and provincial governments to form a multidisciplinary team aimed at protecting the corridor and advancing rail transportation.

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