Island Corridor Founation concerned with some of BC Transportation Mnister's statements on E&N rail

The Island Corridor Foundation is cheering the 13 mayors of the CRD for putting up a united front, calling on the Province to get rail service moving on the abandoned E&N Rail Line. CEO Larry Stevenson says for the first time all the mayors agree on the need for rail service. But Stevenson says some of the transportation minister's responses concerned him.

Claire Trevena pointed to the fact it was under the Liberals' watch that rail service was lost, and the NDP government is now trying to determine the best use for the corridor.

Stevenson says it was the NDP that cancelled a Liberal study into the Langford to Victoria section in order to look at the entire line stretching to Courtenay.

He says that's wasting time, and the service should be restored in phases:

"Now, there's no question that there needs to be an assessment done on the track, we know that. We've never said that wasn't the case. Where we I guess kind of stray is the notion the assessment should take 6 months to complete. And I think that stems from a ministry that's populated with people who build a lot of highways, but not a lot of rail track."

Stevenson says he was shocked that Trevena talked about "best use" since everyone knows that without train service, the corridor will become the subject of Indigenous land claims:

"It's not a secret that the First Nations people have said if you do not put this back into play as a train track, as a railroad, we are going to press claims and we are going to try to have rights put in place, but we're going to put that land put back into our control. So you know, I don't know why we are talking about best use, you know?"

Meantime Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says the mayors still want to see a signal in the February 19th budget that the government is on board.

Helps says while the attention for many is on train service -- the request also involves completion of Bus Rapid Transit lanes -- north and south -- to the Westshore without delay. She says  money should be earmarked in the budget because it will signal to the mayors things are actually going to happen.

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