Thursday July 14, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The Capital Regional District (CRD) Board voted to support the Island Corridor Foundation’s requests that the federal and provincial governments work together to equitably settle Indigenous claims within and along the island rail corridor, and to create a multi-disciplinary team, reflecting all affected interests, to advance rail as a transportation option on Vancouver Island.
“We need to have meaningful conversations with communities along the Island Rail Corridor about our shared future,” said CRD Board Chair Colin Plant in a news statement today from the CRD.
“We want to keep options open for growth and development while listening to and respecting interests of local First Nations.”
The Island Rail Corridor is an approximately 295 km rail corridor owned by the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF). ICF is ultimately responsible for infrastructure maintenance and repair along the corridor to restore rail service on Vancouver Island.
In a presentation to the CRD Board by ICF CEO Larry Stevenson yesterday, the Island Corridor Foundation requested support getting the federal and provincial governments in the same room, and for the province to establish a joint multi-disciplinary team.
“To say it was a journey would be an understatement,” said Stevenson, about how the ICF issues have been moved along over the last couple of years. He outlined the critical events as: the provincial assessment, the logical issues, the weather event, and the Business Case Release. Project costs were outlined as well.
Stevenson pointed out how reliance on one highway system (Hwy 1, from Greater Victoria over the Malahat to points farther up Vancouver Island) is risky for the movement of goods on the island. | Listen to the ICF presentation to the CRD Board, July 13, 2022.
March 2023 deadline for Canada to respond:
The Snaw-naw-as Nation is seeking the segment of the corridor through their reserve to revert to the Nation as the corridor is no longer used for railway purposes.
The BC Court of Appeal has given Canada until March 2023 to determine its intent for the corridor before the Nation can return to court to enforce its right of reversion. Land claim settlement is a senior government responsibility, and that work is crucial to any development process.
CRD recognizes rail corridor as key:
Today the CRD says that the CRD Board “has consistently recognized the Island Rail Corridor as a key component of the regional transportation system”.
CRD says that after Indigenous claims are settled, development of the corridor would entail more in-depth financial analysis working with regional districts, municipalities, and Nations in partnership with the provincial and federal governments.