To the editor,
Re: Flood recovery right time to assess transportation links on Vancouver Island, Letters, Nov. 24.
I’m sure everyone stuck because the Island Highway is closed really wishes there was a bike lane to take instead.
How vulnerable our single extant transport artery has proven to be. The iron road is no silver bullet, but the recent floods show how foolish we have been to let the original backbone of the Island sit derelict for the better part of two decades. With the highways cut off at multiple locations, a second link could be used to keep Nanaimo and Victoria connected to each other, as well as to Courtenay and Port Alberni. On the mainland, passenger trains have already been used in the evacuation of Hope, while rail is poised to beat highways in the race to reconnect the Lower Mainland with the rest of Canada.
Recreational trails serve the purpose their name would suggest; they are excellent community assets for recreation, but not much else. We must not permanently lose our only viable alternative to moving freight and people via the Island Highway.
In the aftermath of these historic floods, government must be pressed to finally deliver on years-old promises to repair the Island railway. Restoring this key piece of infrastructure connects to other issues as well, such as investing in our post-COVID economic recovery, and taking meaningful action to combat the climate crisis that has been brought to our doorsteps in the past few days.
Tyler Ponsford, Nanaimo
To the editor,
Re: More reliable Vancouver Island highway options highlighted in latest flooding, says traffic expert, Nov. 16.
To borrow (and twist) a quote from the ever-more-highways proponent, “we may be the only community of this size … that isn’t served by rail.”
And “we’re the only region of this size that has a right of way and rail bed there for the taking.”
Engaged thinkers recognize that there is no single solution but taking, say, 20 per cent of Island freight off the roads and offering alternatives to the single-occupancy vehicle that people will actually use has got to be seen as a positive step. Not to mention how it could mitigate the issues stemming from the most recent weather event, something we’re scheduled to see more and more of. Such a full-service, modern rail system could be operational and making the lives of Islanders better and safer in a fraction of the time it takes just to begin the design process for a new highway.
Bill MacGougan, Nanaimo
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