MP says VIA Rail must work with government

NANAIMO - Jean Crowder says it's essential that VIA Rail works with government in order to re-instate rail service on the Island.

The federal NDP Nanaimo-Cowichan Member of Parliament says VIA Rail has to work with government on passenger rail service on Vancouver Island.

British Columbian NDP members of Parliament were in Nanaimo last week for meetings and to tour the Island. They met with reporters during a media availability where Jean Crowder was asked about restarting passenger rail service on Vancouver Island and her support for the Sensible B.C. campaign for a referendum on decriminalization of marijuana.

VIA Rail, passenger service provider, and the Island Corridor Foundation, which owns the tracks, are at a standstill in negotiations to restart passenger rail service.

“It’s essential that VIA Rail comes to the table and works with the various levels of government – federal, provincial and municipal – in order to make sure that rail line is re-instated,” Crowder said. “I was on a conference call (Sept. 3) with some of my colleagues across the country because this story is also playing out in other parts of the country. In Gaspe Bay, the same thing is happening, with VIA withdrawing services. So we’ve developed a bit of a plan so one of my colleagues delivered a letter to VIA Rail last week asking for a meeting and we’re looking at some other strategies we’ll be talking about at the end of (this) week.”

Crowder said she’s been in touch with the Island Corridor Foundation and other supporters of the rail line as well.

“I had a meeting with somebody last week about it and we’re going to continue to work hard with our various partners. I’ve been talking to some of the municipal and regional district councillors as well,” said Crowder.

The Sensible B.C. campaign seeking a referendum on decriminalization of marijuana began taking signatures yesterday, with about 400,000 signatures needed in the span of 90 days and Crowder said she is in favour of that democratic process.

“I’m supporting Sensible B.C.’s call for a referendum,” Crowder said. “I think that’s a really important first step. It gives British Columbians an opportunity to provide their point of view and certainly the New Democrats have called for decriminalization for a number of years so I was actually happy to meet with one of the organizers of Sensible B.C. and say that I absolutely support that referendum moving forward.”