The plan for restoration of train service on Vancouver Island is awaiting federal approval, according to Bill McKay, Nanaimo mayor and Island Corridor Foundation board chairman.
The B.C. government recently affirmed a $7 million commitment for the E&N rail line and the federal government did similarly for $7.5 million.
The federal government said funding is contingent on completion of a federal project review, the signing of a contribution agreement and confirmation that no further federal money will be needed. Federal money is also contingent on provision of provincial monies.
Infrastructure Canada said it couldn’t provide any project-specific information at this time, but did say it is continuing to work with the foundation on completion of the review.
McKay said the foundation needs to work on some of the language within the contract that allows flexibility to be able to buy more or less, without jeopardizing funding.
He pointed to an example of 110,000 rail ties that need to replaced.
“So if we were to say, look, your money will buy this many (rail) ties, but we’ve now been able to get more for the same price, we would like to take advantage of that,” said McKay. “They’re just getting into the fine details of the contracts themselves.These things for whatever reason become a lot more complicated than you ever imagine.”
McKay didn’t want to place a timeline on when the federal government signs off.
“I’d like to see rail running on the majority of that line next summer,” he said.
The province said it will provide funds once federal funding is in place and that upgrade work won’t exceed $20.4 million budgeted.