History of the West Coast Trail. “You will get off your bus and then have to wait 45 minutes for your connection to get anywhere, so you always have to be an hour early.”. At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we are building a nation connected by trails. It was plagued with problems as numerous operators couldn’t make it economically viable. In early 2020, the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation received letters of support for its lawsuit from nine of the 14 ICF member nations all saying they want to see the land returned to reserve status and controlled by the original First Nations owners, says Edwards. “When you have rail, you start discovering that there’s a whole bunch of people that need it: low income people, elderly people, young people,” he says. Autumn vignettes along a cycling trail: Vancouver Island. Nanaimo. Groups like the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) and the Regional District of Nanaimo believe that in the absence of rail, improved inter-regional bus service with support from BC Transit could fill in the gaps. Interior. “This determination should not be mistaken for an invitation to delay progress but as a clarion call to move forward with restoration of rail service,” the statement said. The lawsuit argued that control over the rail line right-of-way should revert to the First Nation because after a decade of disuse it had been effectively abandoned as a railroad. Everyone in town started believing that passenger rail was right around the corner, Nelson says. When VIA Rail suspended passenger service in 2011 over safety concerns with the track, ridership was hovering around 40,000 passengers per year for the once-daily round trip — mostly tourists and other travelers heading up island from Victoria. Patches of orange-brown. The 55 km. "On top … BIKE: Galloping Goose Rail Trail (59 km) HIKE: Juan de Fuca Trail (42 km) HIKE: Della Falls (30 km) HIKE: North Coast Trail (79 km) HIKE: Vancouver Island Trail (700 km) HIKE: Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet; Lower Mainland. They also seek to expand the cycling/pedestrian trails alongside the railway from the current more than 100 kilometres . The railway and land grants were transferred to the CPR and by 1925, the railway was a thriving operation. Cathedral Grove. “With all due respect to the [South Island Transportation Plan] report writers we have been ‘exploring’ the potential for rail for over 15 years,” the letter states. And as we celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway on Vancouver Island , which first ran in 1886, maybe we need a new vision. And almost exactly a year after that, the government’s latest cost estimates were released, reviving the decade-long debate yet again. “Whether rails, trails, ferries, transit, these are services people need and use.”. The Island Corridor Foundation released the results of a recent survey they conducted to collect valuable input from the residents of Vancouver Island regarding rail service on Vancouver Island. BIKE: Galloping Goose Rail Trail (59 km) HIKE: Juan de Fuca Trail (42 km) HIKE: Della Falls (30 km) HIKE: North Coast Trail (79 km) HIKE: Vancouver Island Trail (700 km) HIKE: Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet; Lower Mainland. Restoring freight and passenger rail service on southeastern Vancouver Island could cost about $729 million, according to a new report commissioned by the provincial government. “You get into a whole bunch of stuff that people don’t really talk a lot about … things like social equity which, in my mind, is a big deal,” Stevenson says. “That’s the truth because it can’t compete with roads in so many ways.”. As the superintendent of the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island (SVI), it’s Kutaj’s job to know the track intimately. Using lower contingency budgets and a hybrid of the middle and most expensive options laid out in the April report, Stevenson says passenger service could be restored along the line, including three daily commuter trains near Victoria, for around $300 million. If The Discourse’s pop-up coverage resonates, please subscribe to our email updates to let us know if you want us to stick around. This was, and is, the land of the Huu-ay-aht, Ditidaht, and Pacheedaht tribes. “Doubling the price, I mean, that’s going kind of crazy in my mind,” Stevenson says. Current proposals would solve that problem by reversing the train direction, making it more appealing to mid-island residents. The maps also show roads that access the Trail (including gated roads) and campsites. At the end of the day, it won’t be more studies or analysis that determine the future of the corridor — it will be up to political will. Nelson remembers the 2015 federal election and all of the talk about bringing back island passenger rail, but it never happened. The only rock tunnel on the E&N Railway cuts through a mountainside near the Malahat Summit. And like that former railway, Craighead says mid-Island communities could see significant tourism traffic from a multiuse pathway. 3,068 trails on an interactive map of the trail network. “The business case just doesn’t seem to be there,” he said at the time, according to CTV Vancouver Island, “and I’m not prepared to wait any longer.”. Province agreed to give Travel – At the 4 Mile bridge, the westbound roadside bike lanes must be detoured onto until the junction of Burnside Rd. You’ve told us that Nanaimo needs better local news. When the ICF was formed in 2003, the goal was to preserve the rail corridor from being broken up and sold off in pieces. For as many vocal supporters as the passenger rail push has attracted, there are equally vocal opponents who say even optimistic ridership estimates of around 1,000 boardings per day simply doesn’t justify the costs. Learn more about RTC’s impact. Learn more here. completed in 1886, and the initial Pacific Rim National Park. It left only two private bus company options for non-drivers like her wishing to travel south. But she says her arrival in Nanaimo was a rude awakening. Corridor communities generally support the development of rail-with-trails, recognizing the tremendous value for recreation opportunities and promotion of active transportation. “It’s a very important part of our future.”. Exploring the Boardwalk Trails of Vancouver Island. acquire, preserve and develop for purposes of the Foundation the Island Corridor which lies north-south from Victoria to Courtenay and east-west from Nanaimo to Port Alberni and from Duncan to Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island; maintain the continuity of the Island Corridor as a continuous special use connection for all communities, while respecting and supporting First Nations interests and traditional lands and uses; contribute to safe and environmentally sound passenger and freight rail services along the Railroad; create trails, and facilitate opportunities for parks, gardens, greenways and other public areas for use of members of the public along the length of the Island Corridor; encourage a flexible infrastructure along the Island Corridor which will encourage a wide range of economic and trade activity for the benefit of all communities lying adjacent to the Island Corridor; preserve archaeological resources, historic landmarks, structures, artifacts and historic routes along the Island Corridor for historical purposes and for ongoing and future use by the community; conserve the environmental and spiritual features and functions of the Island Corridor in respect of the land, water and natural resources for the general benefit of the public; and do all such charitable activities which are incidental to and beneficial to the attainment of the purposes stated above. Because the Corridor serves 14 First Nations territories, it is an essential part of community and business development plans in Aboriginal communities on the Island. Renewing passenger service, he says, is about allowing people like Nelson the same freedom that’s enjoyed by people who drive cars. Walking along the Esquimalt and Nanaimo (E&N) Railway corridor north of Ladysmith, he counts wooden rail beams in his head, spending mere seconds to assess each one. “It contemplated various different uses and relationships for that corridor,” Edwards said. “How are we going to step up the discussion about those opportunities instead of having this tunnel vision on rail that’s not financially feasible, that’s expensive,” Edwards said. He believes that rebuilding the rail line could be the perfect stimulus project because construction could begin almost immediately and put people back to work. Like Nelson, many people said that renewed passenger service would be a huge benefit to people who can’t afford to drive cars, while others worried that renewed service would continue to flounder with low ridership like the old service did. rail operation ran for 115 In late September, the ICF sent a letter to the premier questioning why the foundation was not consulted as a stakeholder and why rail has been left out of the strategy. People would use it.”. This would likely be the first step in a phased in approach to the restoration of rail service on the entire island and is the focus of the current study the Province has undertaken to determine the condition of the corridor. It could help take cars off the highway and provide a route around the often-treacherous Malahat Summit, a steep, winding section of highway prone to congestion and deadly accidents. It's a good four-hour climb with 1,000 metres in elevation gain on rough but ready trail. “Public transit here is just perfectly awful,” Nelson says. There is one thing that the ICF and the Friends of Rails to Trails agree on: leaving the corridor in limbo risks killing it outright. The E&N Rail Trail is a 17 kilometer paved bike and pedestrian trail designed to be a non-motorized recreation and commuter connection to downtown Victoria, British Columbia, and runs through Esquimalt, View Royal, and Langford. A VITA volunteer – Alan Philip of Cowichan – has recently completed (July, 2019) the compilation of a series of 7 topographic mapsthat cover the entire Trail from Victoria to Cape Scott. “So the rail has significant potential in every respect,” Krog says. The Foundation recognizes the importance of this corridor as a link that connects communities economically, socially and culturally. 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