District of Nanaimo pulls funding for island rail group

A group that has spent the last five years advocating for the return of passenger rail service to Vancouver Island can no longer count on funding from the Regional District of Nanaimo.

Board chair says district has "lost confidence in the day-to-day operations of the ICF"

VIA rail used to operate daily passenger rail service between Victoria and Courtenay but stopped in 2011 due to concerns over the safety of tracks and trestles that had fallen into disrepair. The Island Corridor Foundation owns the track and has been working on upkeep while advocating for service to return. (Alasdair McLellen/Wikipedia)

A group advocating for passenger rail service on Vancouver Island has being unhitched by the Regional District of Nanaimo.

For two years, the RDN has been putting money aside for the Island Corridor Foundation, to be given to them if the federal and provincial governments put money toward rail enhancements on the Island.

But last night, the board unanimously voted to stop collecting money for that pot, which had a little less a million dollars in it.

District board chair Bill Veenhoof says the decision was made because the ICF has not produced results.

"The Board is just tired of waiting for rail to come, for trains to come, to the Island," he told All Points West host Robyn Burns. "We've been waiting five years … we've lost confidence in the day-to-day operations of the ICF."

VIA rail used to operate daily passenger rail service between Victoria and Courtenay but stopped in 2011 due to concerns over the safety of tracks and trestles that had fallen into disrepair. The Island Corridor Foundation owns the track and has been working on upkeep while advocating for service to return.

Veenhoof says the ICF originally was working for daily service from Nanaimo to Victoria, which turned into weekends only — "What we taxed for and we got are two different things," he said.

Another concern the District had was the ICF's retention of Granneke Management by the ICF board; a company operated by the ICF's executive director Graham Bruce.

Veenhoof says there's still a potential future for rail service on Vancouver Island, but it might be time to start exploring that potential future from scratch.

The ICF declined requests for comment.

With files from All Points West


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Off the rails: District of Nanaimo to stop collecting funds for passenger train group

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.