Almost three-quarters of respondents from Nanaimo are ‘very supportive’ of rail service, according to an Island Corridor Foundation survey.
The foundation conducted the online survey between April 7 and May 15 with a total of 438 people responding. Sixty-four responded from Greater Nanaimo, with 72 per cent very supportive of rail, 1.6 per cent somewhat supportive, 9.4 per cent somewhat unsupportive and 17.2 per cent not supportive at all.
Overall, 85.5 per cent said it was very important to them that the Island rail corridor be “preserved for public use in the long-term future” and 62 per cent were very supportive of rail service on Vancouver Island.
There was also support for continued development of rail with trails within the corridor, with 48.3 per cent very supportive, 20.8 per cent somewhat supportive, 13.6 per cent neutral, 5.3 per cent somewhat unsupportive and 12 per cent not supportive at all.
The survey report said common themes from respondents were general support for prioritizing rail repairs, upgrades and services incrementally based on economic feasibility and seeking government funding accordingly.
In terms of next steps, the report said Southern Railway of Vancouver Island will provide cost estimates for upgrades to the rail infrastructure and foundation staff will prepare five-year financial projections. The board will choose a preferred rail infrastructure option and establish goals and performance indicators for a business plan.
However, Graham Bruce, foundation CEO, said it was too early to discuss business plan timelines as the board is hoping to meet by the end of this month to discuss the results. It is a step in the process, he said.
“They haven’t had a chance to collectively come together to review the information and so this is just that information that was gathered, it was posted, made public … all of the questions you’re asking me I can’t really give you an answer to till the board’s had a chance to look at it, but we wanted to share it with everybody initially,” said Bruce.
To see the report, please go to www.islandrail.ca.