Why send a letter?
Letters may seem old-fashioned, but they are still useful to demonstrate widespread public support. The purpose of your letter is to increase awareness for the FORT-VI trail proposal: a continuous, multi-use trail on the Island Rail Corridor. This can be done by making local politicians and newspaper readers aware of the trail proposal and by emphasizing why the trail proposal is the best option for the corridor. There is general agreement that the corridor should be preserved to be as intact and continuous as possible and that it is well suited for active transportation, which benefits from a flat grade.
There are already some trails built beside the railway but the railway prevents a continuous trail being built; in many places there is not enough room for both. Shorter, unconnected sections of trail can go from nowhere to nowhere, and fail to bring the benefits of continuous, highly successful rail trails such as La Route Verte in Quebec. Although the railway has been closed for safety reasons since 2011, the corridor is still a designated rail route and this needs to change. Your support will help us accomplish that.
What should you include in your letter?
Below is some sample content for your letters and emails. It is recommended that a letter or email contain at least one phrase from 1, 2 and 3 basic arguments for the project and for removing the rails. Rephrase the statements in your own words if you can. Letters do not have to be long. Half a page, about 150-200 words, is plenty to make your points and show your support.
To whom to send your emails and letters?
- Send an email to the Premier at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Contact BC's Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Rob Fleming, at Minister.Transportation@gov.bc.ca
- Write a letter to the editor of your local paper expressing your thoughts about a rail trail.
- If you do send a letter, please let us know!
Phrases / Arguments which are basic to our proposal
Phrases / Arguments in favour of a continuous multi-use trail:
- All over North America rail rights-of-way are being converted to multi-use trails. There are 2,096 completed trails and 798 under construction. Some are longer than the E&N corridor. The reason there are so many is because people and communities want them and they are successful.
- Rail rights-of-way work best as trails because they are flat, usually too narrow for roads, but just right for trails.
- Rail trails can help rejuvenate communities no longer connected by rails through tourism and business opportunities.
- Conversion of old rail rights-of-way to trails is a low cost way of using the right-of-way to benefit the public, businesses and First Nations.
- The Galloping Goose rail trail in Victoria carries up to 2,500 cyclists per day and at least as many pedestrians. The most the E&N railway carried was about 100 passengers a day!
Phrases / Arguments against trying to revive rail service:
- The E&N railway has been closed for safety reasons for almost ten years and there has been no business plan published to restore rail service
- Several studies have been done but there are none showing how rail service can be properly established without massive subsidies for capital costs and operational costs. Even this would not result in a modern railway. The original design limitation would remain, limiting the service provided to that of a 19th century Victorian railway
- It is inconceivable that the right-of-way will be used again for heavy rail (“the train”). When the railway was built there were few roads on the island. Now there are 236 road crossings all of which would have to be brought up to modern safety standards. New crossings and grade separations can cost millions of dollars - each!
- When the railway was built it was allowed to have tighter curves than was usual. This means that the maximum speed for any vehicle on the right of way is only 65 km/hr.
- Bringing the old Victorian railway up to safe standards will be very costly and it will still not compare or compete with modern transportation systems.
- Population densities on Vancouver Island are much too low to support “heavy rail”. The investments needed are very high and the potential ridership much too low.
Phrases / Arguments as to why “trails with rail” is not a good solution
- The continuity of a trail is important. A continuous trail cannot be built on the E&N right-of-way with the rails in place. There are many places (more than 50) where there is not enough room for rails with trails.
- The costs of trails with rail are much higher. A recently built trail with rail (the trail is beside the rails) in the CRD cost more than $2,000,000 per kilometre to construct.
Phrases / Arguments which may express your own thoughts and feelings about the proposed multi-use trail:
- The trail would allow me to get myself/my family to school/work safely and free from highway traffic and noise
- The trail would allow me to get to neighbouring communities without having to use the highway
- I would use the trail to walk my dog
- I would use the trail to ride my bike/skateboard/scooter safe from cars and other traffic
- I enjoy trails because they are free from traffic, noise and pollution and I would certainly use this one
- I have a business close to the corridor and a trail would be good for my business
- I have a winery close to the corridor and a trail would bring in tourists
- I operate a B&B along the corridor and a trail would bring in customers