RDN board unimpressed

Talk centres around combining rails and trails on Island corridor

The Regional District of Nanaimo is getting fed up with waiting for definitive action on the Island rail corridor.

Speaking at Tuesday night’s regular board meeting, Qualicum Beach director Dave Willie noted his municipality’s letter to RDN CAO Paul Thorkelson that called for discussions about the future use of the corridor and to examine alternatives, other than rail, for both the corridor and the $15 million dedicated to it from the provincial and federal governments. “There are serious concerns being expressed,” Willie said. “The corridor is a tremendous asset to the Island and we need all options on the table for discussion. I have a grave concern that the board is focused on one option only.”

Thorkelson stressed the district looks at the corridor as a venue for many types of transportation.

“I don’t think they are mutually exclusive,” he said.

“Discussion of rail can continue and we can talk about alternatives for pedestrians and other transportation options.”

Willie wasn’t mollified however and he received strong support from his colleagues around the table.

“The time is appropriate and the temperature is right for us to make some significant inquiries about the finish line,” said Nanaimo director Bill Bestwick.

Bowser director Bill Veenhof agreed.

“I want to take this further,” he said. “Perhaps we should look at a motion to terminate our agreement with the fund.”

Parksville director Marc Lefebvre echoed Willie’s frustration.

“VIA Rail simply won’t give a definitive answer of any sort and to me it seems like a simple thing — are you going ahead or not?”

Nanaimo director Jim Kipp urged caution however.

“I think we are in a quagmire but we have an August deadline now,” he said. “Can we sit on everything until then and then make a decision as soon as possible?”

“If you feel really bad, stop your payments for a while. That usually works.”

The board agreed to receive the letter from the Town of Qualicum Beach and took no further action on the item.

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