NEWS

Vancouver Island Transportation Corridor Coalition Formed

July 7, 2020, 12:43 pm

Core goals include complete revitalization of all rail infrastructure on Vancouver Island

Recognizing that Vancouver Island’s future can greatly benefit from a modern, safe and integrated transportation system, several individuals and organizations have formed the Vancouver Island Transportation Corridor Coalition (VITCC) to promote the benefits of modern rail service on Vancouver Island. The nonprofit society has a mandate to promote modernizing the former E&N rail corridor as the backbone of the Island's future transportation system for commuters and freight alike, integrating with all other forms of transportation. They also seek to expand the cycling/pedestrian trails alongside the railway from the current 100+ kilometers.

The rail corridor is owned by Island Regional Districts and First Nations, who comprise the Island Corridor Foundation, and provisions rail service and cycling/pedestrian trail access from Victoria to Courtenay with branches to Port Alberni. At present some rail service is being provided however the corridor is in need of upgrading to meet future demand. The VITCC views the return to rail as inevitable given the population growth on the Island and urges all stakeholders to take action now rather than delaying the project. Almost every other region in the Western world has eventually had to rely on rail and the costs are significantly lower to use existing corridors as opposed to land appropriations and building railbeds from scratch, as Vancouver has found discovered with SkyTrain.

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The VITCC is quickly gathering support from many, if not all chambers of commerce on Vancouver Island. Businesses and residents alike see that using rail as the backbone of our future transportation system is absolutely essential. We are in the midst of financial, social and economic crises and have a looming transportation nightmare on the horizon as our population grows each year. The Capital Regional District average commute times rise by double digits each year and residents have to reduce CO2 emissions while offering people a better quality of life.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog expressed the urgency or restoring rail from a city struggling with population growth and rising vehicle traffic. “A modern rail service coupled with multi-purpose trails on Vancouver Island is not a dream, it is an absolute necessity if we are serious about climate change and real progress. The cost of this which allows us to move into the 21st century is well worth it. I enthusiastically support this initiative and the ICF.”

The VITCCs vision is to integrate all modes of transportation on the Island; road, sea, air and multi-purpose trails, through a rejuvenated railway. The new organisation plans on actively seeking public and private funding in order to achieve its goals.

VITCC has plans to showcase what they believe are advantages of a 21st century rail service. They include freight, regional passenger services, fast commuter and excursion trains for tourism. The VITCC also supports a vast expansion of the over 100 kilometers of graded multi-purpose trailsas these offer both environmental benefits and superior safety for cyclists.

They benefits of a modern railway include

  • a logical, convenient and reliable alternative to road travel
  • the potential for vastly reduced GHG emissions; none if electrified
  • a safer way to travel compared to vehicle traffic (UK figures estimate a 200-fold increase in safety)
  • more dependable and multi-mode, connected travel options without automobile dependency
  • a superior level of convenience, comfort and safety for those who either travel to work or for medical, shopping or leisure purposes
  • potential for 15 minute service between the Western Communities and Victoria.
  • much needed economic stimulus for Vancouver Island (most, if not all, materials and labour can be sourced locally)

The Island railways can be rebuilt in phases using funds provided by the Provincial and Federal governments and with the continuing support of local municipalities, first nations and Regional Districts. The CO2 tax revenue has been slated to build green infrastructure and no other project on Vancouver Island has the same potential to meet this goal while simultaneously solving a very real transportation problem.

The VITCC supports the vision of the Island Corridor Foundation Board and its CEO, Larry Stevenson, noting the active cooperation required between their various stakeholders, including local First Nations.

Interested in helping? Join the cause today!