The Province of B.C. has committed to work with the Island Corridor Foundation and First Nations to do an assessment of the E&N rail corridor, which encompasses an area that includes Victoria, Courtenay and Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file)

Vancouver Island First Nation calls for repurposing of E&N rail line

Suggestion: ‘A level, accessible, paved trail that connects communities and promotes recreation’

A mid-Island First Nation is calling for the repurposing of the E&N Railway Corridor, saying there is no business case for the investment necessary to reopen the rail line.

“How about the East Coast Trail? A level, accessible, paved trail that connects communities and promotes recreation? Despite several funding proposals, the Island Corridor Foundation has been unable to secure the financial investment needed to rehabilitate the track,” read a May 5 release from the Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation, based between Nanaimo and Parksville.

This comes after a pair of recent estimates about the cost of reopening – a report from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure assessing the cost at $700 million and a lower number of $254 million from the CEO of the Island Corridor Foundation, Larry Stevenson. The ICF owns the line, which stretches 220-kilometres from Victoria to Courtenay. Passenger service halted in 2011 due to concerns around track safety, while freight service continues sparingly on Vancouver Island.

Fifty per cent of the board seats on the ICF are represented by Indigenous Nations, with the corridor running through 14 First Nation territories, including Snaw-Naw-As.

READ MORE: Realistic figure to get Vancouver Island rail up and running $254 million: CEO

READ MORE: Island Rail Corridor needs $700 million in upgrades to get back on track

Brent Edwards, a Snaw-Naw-As council member, said the purpose of the ICF is to protect the corridor and using the land for a purpose other than rail could achieve that. The Snaw-Naw-As currently has a civil lawsuit before the courts against the ICF and the Attorney General of Canada, asking for the return of land that they say was wrongfully taken away from them when the railway was initially built.

“We’ve had numerous First Nations that are part of the Island Corridor Foundation support our position and despite of that, they keep running amok, running ahead, saying ‘we’re going to get rail up and running one day,’” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of First Nations that would like to see it repurposed and that was the intent of the Island Corridor Foundation when it was set up was to protect the corridor and not have tunnel vision on rail.”

Edwards called the potential repurposing “the real opportunity.”

Stevenson said the purpose of the ICF is to reopen rail service, noting he would like to see trails developed as well as the rail line.

“The Island Corridor Foundation is very supportive of trails alongside the railway and in fact, we have built over 100 kilometres of trails on the Island and it’s our intent to continue building them in the future,” he said. “But we are still – the base of this organization is to restore train service to the Island.”

cloe.logan@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

LantzvilleParksvillerailwayvancouverisland

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The province has completed a Request for Proposal process for a corridor assessment, according to the Island Corridor Foundation. - File photo

Just Posted

Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo releases his new single, Christine, on Oct. 30. (Photo courtesy Andrew Dodd)
Nanaimo bluesman David Gogo evokes return to good times with new single

Upcoming release ‘Christine’ among a dozen new songs written during pandemic

Premier John Horgan heads to his ride following his announcement that there will be a fall election as he speaks during a press conference in Langford in September. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)
Editorial: Majority needs to work for all British Columbians

Concepts of co-operation change as we go from an NDP minority to a majority

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who rammed a police car to escape an arrest attempt. (File photo)
Drug trafficking suspect rams police vehicle in Nanaimo and escapes arrest

Suspect still at large after fleeing from police in Harewood on Friday afternoon

Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health chief medical health officer, immunizes Victoria Schmid, Island Health’s vice-president of pandemic planning. (Submitted photo)
Island Health advising people to get a flu shot

People looking to get vaccinated should book an appointment, says Island Health

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

Most Read