Edward Hill/News staff Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Randall Garrison (NDP) lobbied the federal transportation committee to commit funding to help upgrade the E&N tracks. The committee said no

Federal committee snubs E&N rail funding request

The E&N rail line will remain idle a little longer after a transportation committee opted not to recommend upgrading the track.

The rusting E&N rail line will remain idle a little longer after a federal transportation committee opted not to recommend upgrading the track.

Last Thursday, York South-Westson MP Mike Sullivan (NDP) asked the government to create a “rail infrastructure investment program” in this year’s federal budget, specifically citing the Victoria-to-Courtenay passenger line.

Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca MP Randall Garrison (NDP) also spoke at the meeting, pressing the need for the federal government to match $7.5 million pledged by the province to help repair the ailing E&N.

“Having a functioning E&N is vital to helping alleviate commuter problems on the lower Island, particularly with hundreds of new jobs coming at Esquimalt dockyards,” Garrison said. “We need the E&N running so we can help these shipbuilders get to work.”

The motion didn’t specify dollar figures. The federal committee voted down the program request, with the single Liberal and four NDP members out numbered by Conservatives.

“I talked about why it was an important investment, important for passenger service, but also for freight and commuter rail in the future,” Garrison said. “This (money) is an important first step needed to get it going.

“The committee doesn’t really understand how it works on Vancouver Island, none are from B.C.,” he added.

The Island Corridor Foundation, the non-profit which owns the E&N rail line and corridor, estimates $15 million would allow it to upgrade the track and replace 104,000 rail ties between Victoria and Courtenay, allowing a few Budd cars to run again. It reckons $100 million would allow a major overhaul of the entire track and rail bridges.

Had the transporation commitee approved the resolution, there is no guarantee the federal government would commit the money — the committee can only make recommendations.

Garrison argues the motion would have added pressure on Transportation Minister Denis Lebel to dedicate funding to the E&N in the upcoming federal budget, expected in the last week of March.

“The idea is about trying to build a case here. We want the feds to match the money soon or we’ll miss the whole construction season.”

On the bright side, he pointed out the minister has never said “no.” “The minister says they’re looking at it. They’ve never said ‘no.’ If they really didn’t want it, I think they would say so. I think it’s being actively considered.”

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

 

 

Just Posted

Suman, mom of Reena Virk, has died

Mother of Reena Virk was an activist against bullying

FISHING ADVENTURES: Big fish biting in local waters

Ron Neitsch | Contributed A very exciting June so far on the… Continue reading

SOOKE HISTORY: Murray House – a community gathering place

Elida Peers | Contributed We frequently drive by the intersection where Murray… Continue reading

B.C. turns up the heat

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for most the province due to high temperatures

Residents fear return of campers to Cuthbert Holmes Park

Saanich Police deliver eviction notice to make-shift camp

Third elephant seal moults on Gonzales Beach

Victoria City staff were out this morning shifting pylons to protect an… Continue reading

5 fun things to do this weekend in Greater Victoria

Car Free YYJ, family fishing, Sooke bluegrass, walk for cancer and a mascot’s birthday

WEB POLL: Would you be in favour of a ban on plastic straws?

Would you be in favour of a ban on plastic straws?… Continue reading

Border officials argue B.C. man’s Facebook posts threat to Canada’s security

A B.C. Supreme Court judge acquitted Othman Hamdan of terrorism charges last September

Search for capsized fishers near Tofino enters fourth day

“There’s a lot of shock in the community in terms of how we could end up at this place.”

B.C. announces $75M to help friends, family care for seniors at home

Funding will go towards respite care and adult day programs

Timely tide attracts another pod of orcas to Victoria

The pod left the harbour about 30 minutes later

Canada won’t ‘play politics’ on U.S. migrant children policy

The U.S. government is under fire over its ”zero tolerance” policy

Most Read