On May 26, 2021, the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Regional Services Committee approved a recommendation to divert the Cowichan Valley Trail (CVT) from the E&N rail corridor to Chemainus Road close to the Ladysmith boundary.
If adopted by the CVRD board, the CVRD will spend $600,000 to provide additional parking and force CVT cyclists and pedestrians to cross Chemainus Road and travel on a sidewalk past four intersecting roads and 22 intersecting driveways on their way to and from Coronation Mall. This is a safety and planning travesty. There is no good reason why the CVT cannot continue on the E&N rail corridor to and even through Ladysmith.
Rail trails (or trails beside rails) turn unused rail corridors into thriving tourist attractions and safe commuter corridors. They also protect these valuable transportation corridors for future generations. Rail trails often provide safe cycling and pedestrian access to landmarks, historical sites, beaches and parks like Transfer Beach and town centres like those on First Avenue in Ladysmith.
It cost about $1.5 million to build the Saltair portion of the CVT. This included the cost of two bridges and improved drainage. As no bridges are required, the cost of continuing the trail from North Watts Road to Coronation Mall appears likely to be significantly lower. If the Island Corridor Foundation can be persuaded to lease the railbed, the cost would be even cheaper.
I urge the CVRD directors to reconsider this latest recommendation and build a trail that will truly benefit our future, residents and businesses.
Gord Van Dyck,