Getting trains back on track on the Island is proving to be a tricky proposition. (File photo)

Getting trains back on track on the Island is proving to be a tricky proposition. (File photo)

Survey indicates strong support for Island rail

Rail construction will also bring much-needed economic stimulus to the Island

The Island Corridor Foundation has released results of a recent survey conducted to collect input from residents regarding rail service on Vancouver Island, with the information gathered reinforcing the importance of the rail corridor as a part of the transportation infrastructure.

While support is strongest in the two major population centres, Victoria and Nanaimo, there is a high level of support across the Island for the restoration of rail service, the ICF indicates. Overall, 80 per cent of survey respondents believe federal and provincial governments should fund a modern and revitalized rail system for the Island and 81 per cent of respondents believe rail should receive a subsidy to support ongoing operations.

“We appreciate the time Islanders took to provide their views on the restoration of rail service,” noted Larry Stevenson, CEO of the Island Corridor Foundation. “The tremendous response underscores the importance of this issue for our communities. The results should leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that the people of Vancouver Island want to see rail service restored.”

“The people of Vancouver Island have spoken loud and clear,” agreed Leonard Krog, Mayor of Nanaimo. “They want the province to get on board with all of us who want our railway restored.”

The survey was contracted to Webstation Global Systems Inc. and ran from Sept. 18-26, 2020. It received 3,533 responses, and 2,979 of those gave a valid postal code for Vancouver Island regions adjacent to the rail corridor. Those responses were used to formulate the results.

The ICF also released a recently-completed report on the economic impact of construction activities related to restoring rail service on the Island. The report was commissioned by the ICF to gauge the immediate economic impact to Island residents on the construction aspects of rehabilitating the Island Corridor.

The report by the Vann Struth Consulting Group states with a rail construction budget of $304 million, a rail project for the Island would generate $470 million in total economic output. Further, it is estimated 85 per cent of the construction expenditures could be sourced from B.C. companies and many of the materials required could be purchased from Island businesses. The report also highlights $147 million in labour income, providing many opportunities for Island-based workers resulting in immediate benefits to Island residents.

“This report demonstrates the incredibly positive impact a full restoration of rail service would have for our Island economy,” pointed out Phil Kent, co-chair of the ICF Board. “The work on this corridor can begin immediately, it can put people to work with good paying jobs, across multiple industries and benefit all on Vancouver Island. We have an opportunity to stimulate our local economy while building a better B.C. and better Vancouver Island for the future.”

“We are facing enormous challenges in the coming days and months in our economic recovery,” David Screech, Mayor of View Royal, indicated. “The work on the Island rail corridor is an opportunity for us to build critical and desperately needed infrastructure and to energize our local economies at a time we need it most. There has never been a better time to move forward on rail than now.”

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Island Corridor Foundation’s Larry Stevenson. (File photo)

Island Corridor Foundation’s Larry Stevenson. (File photo)