Around the world, unused railways are being converted into multi-use recreational trails for hikers, bikers, walkers, horseback riders, and other non-motorized users. Much more than pathways, these trails connect communities, encourage active lifestyles, and act as world-class destinations for locals and tourists alike.
There’s an initiative on Vancouver Island to do just that—to convert the existing rails within the Vancouver Island Corridor into a multi-use, non-motorized recreational trail. The Friends of Rails to Trails – Vancouver Island (FORT-VI) is working hard to make this vision a reality, and has received many encouraging responses from people who share their desire to have a contiguous trail system stretching from Victoria to Courtenay. This includes our own letter of support, which we sent to Premier Christy Clark.
It’s only by showing that most Island residents would prefer a trail that they can attain a community use for this valuable corridor!
How you can help
Here are a few ways to show your support for the Rails to Trails initiative:
- Sign FORT-VI’s petition to show the Island Corridor Foundation, the BC Government and our local municipalities and regional districts that there is public interest in converting the E&N rail bed into a non-motorized, multi-use recreation trail and that this option should be considered.
- The Island Corridor Foundation has opened up their draft business plan for public feedback until April 30th, 2017. Give it a read, then take a few minutes to fill out their feedback survey. The survey doesn’t include the specific option to replace the track with a trail, but what you can do is:
- Choose ‘rails to trails’ as the best option
- Then, add comments in the goals section and the general comments/advice section at the end of the questionnaire stating that you support replacement of rail service with a trail
- On April 11th and 12th, FORT-VI will be meeting with the Regional Boards through which the line runs to discuss their vision of a trail rather than a rail. (FORT-VI has previously met with the CEO of Island Corridor Foundation, whose goal is to reinstate a rail service with a capital cost in the $100 million range. Individual communities would be responsible for providing trails that parallel the track which can be expensive and impossible in some areas). If you live on Vancouver Island and would like to show your support, you can attend one of the meetings or volunteer to help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- Write a letter of your own. Get in touch with the Premier or your local paper to show your support for FORT-VI. And of course you can always write a note on social media to help spread the word.