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Letter: Repurpose rail corridor for other uses

Rail service was lost a decade ago

Repurpose rail corridor for other uses

Re: Island rail corridor

The rail corridor on Vancouver Island is not about to be lost as many municipal leaders were postulating at the UBCM conference at Whistler last week. What they fail to acknowledge is that rail service was lost a decade ago, for many good reasons.

What one must appreciate is that the big rail companies, whose experts analyzed the future of rail on the Island, concluded that the rail service was not viable without huge public subsidies. These people are authorities in their field and would not give up on a service if they could see a way to make money.

And yet, they gave it away.

The other thing that one must appreciate is that losing the train does not mean losing the corridor. The high monetary tourism value of turning the corridor, at relatively little expense, into a walking/cycling trail, as many communities across the continent have discovered, is far more profitable than rail ever could be in this case.

There are many case studies, some from as close as the Okanagan’s repurposing of the Kettle Valley Railroad, that prove turning unused rail corridors to public benefit is good for the public’s personal health as well as their pocketbooks.

Politicians must be astute enough to imagine what to do with a gold mine that is laying at their feet, ready to be used. With this coming election, we must use our votes to elect people with vision. Elected officials and civil servants who cannot see the value to the public in that corridor have already “missed the train”. They need to be replaced.

So, no. We would not be losing the corridor. We would be regaining the use of this very valuable public property to the benefit of all island residents and visitors.

Al Brunet

Shawnigan Lake

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