How did the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) obtain the Railway from CPR?

CP sold the corridor for one dollar in 2006, receiving credit for a charitable donation of $236 million which netted them a $38 million tax saving.

Who manages the ICF and what is their purpose?

The ICF is directed by 12 board members (5 Regional Districts, 5 First Nations & 2 Directors at large) representing the Districts and First Nation lands of the Corridor, which manages the rail line, land and assets worth about $337 million in the public interest.

What was VIA Rail involvement in the corridor?

VIA Rail subsidy was $1.4 million annually when the passenger service was running.

When did rail passenger service come to an end?

Passenger service between Courtenay and Victoria stopped in 2011. It took 90 min longer than driving the total route due to speed restrictions (uncontrolled crossings, track conditions, etc).

What is the current situation on Government Grants to re-establish rail service?

Grant funding requested from the Federal and Provincial Governments of $15 million has now expired and needs to be reapplied for. No specific business plan was ever made available to support this original request and was largely held back due to a First Nations law suit. It should also be noted that in 2012 the RDN withdrew $945,000 intended for track repairs due to a lack of confidence in the ICF.

Doesn’t Canada have a constitutional obligation to BC to maintain operation of rail service between Victoria and Nanaimo?

No it does not.  According to the 1994 Supreme Court case between British Columbia (Attorney General) v. Canada (Attorney General) on whether Canada owes BC constitutional obligation to ensure operation of rail service between Victoria and Nanaimo the ruling was that “Canada does not owe a constitutional obligation to British Columbia in respect of the operation of the Victoria to Nanaimo Vancouver Island rail line.” Supreme Court of Canada Report 1994 [2SCR 41]

What is the financial situation of the ICF?

The ICF has $892,811 owing to CIBC and $175,000 to Southern Railway of Vancouver Island. Both are callable (lender can ask for their money back at any time) and both are secured by all the Foundation’s assets. (Ref. notes 9 and 10 of Grant Thornton prepared 2016 Financial Statements.) Direct quotes from 2016 Financial Statements: “As of Dec.31, 2016, the Foundation’s current liabilities exceed its current assets by $849,314. These conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the Foundation’s ability to continue as a going concern.” (Layman’s language: means it has to sell off assets or take on more debt to meet its current obligations.)

What would the cost be of re-establishing rail service be?

In 2009 an IBI Consulting report estimated that $118 million was required to bring the tracks to safe conditions from Duncan to Victoria for passenger service (including freight if not loaded too heavily). Ref. “Evaluation of E&N Railway Corridor: October 2009”. The cost to bring the Duncan to Courtenay section to safe operation was quoted in 2009 $ at $103 million. This does not include $120 million to upgrade bridges and grade separations. At that time, it was estimated that a $4.9 million annual subsidy (VIA subsidy and commuter rail subsidy) would be required to operate the Duncan to Victoria section and a $1.5 million subsidy was needed to operate Duncan to Courtenay. The report also shows there are over 240 level crossings between Victoria and Courtenay. These costs have likely doubled due to inflation and deterioration of the rail bed.

What is the feasibility of building a continuous trail alongside the active rail line?

HB Lanarc Consultants and Newcastle Engineering report done in 2009 for only the Nanaimo Regional District portion of the corridor shows there are 41 sections where it is deemed impractical to have a shared railway and trail. This report only covers 118 km (41%) of the corridor but is likely representative of the total 288 km E&N corridor.

What would be involved in establishing a trail on the decommissioned rail-bed (Rails to Trails)?

It is estimated that the cost to pull up the track will be offset by sale of the rails. Additional costs for a trail would be surface material, decking and railings at bridges and trestles, bollards at road crossings, fencing, signage, and picnic facilities. Estimates depend on type of surface chosen, extent of amenities and level of volunteerism in each community.

Ongoing costs of maintaining the trail would include vegetation control, periodic remediation of surface, graffiti and garbage removal. Leases and other non rail income would be used to help offset these expenses.

Will electric assist bikes be allowed on the non-motorize multi-use trail?

Yes they will be, as long as they meet the ICBC requirements for electric bicycles.