Feedback - E&N Corridor Study
I believe that the founding members of the Island Corridor Foundation have done a terrific job securing the E&N railroad right of way for public use. Prior to their involvement the probability was that it would be broken into smaller parcels for commercial development, something we don’t need nearly as much. We must seize the opportunity to redevelop the E&N right -of - way to maximize the benefit for the citizens of B.C. It may be a long costly process, but it will be well worth it in the end.
I would like to see the easement contain a multi - use path to be used by walkers, cyclists, roller bladers (non - motorized transport in general). I think that there are possibilities for using the existing railway system in ways so they can be commercially viable, so I am not suggesting a rail to trail conversion. Instead, I would like to see a rail with trail conversion, similar to the E&N Trail in Nanaimo. Pedestrians and cyclists share the right of way along the railway easement and where this is not possible the trail moves to adjacent roads. I believe that the railway easement is 33 meters in many places, so there should be plenty of room for both. My understanding is that there is currently a plan in the CRD to do just this in the most southerly part of the E&N Railway easement. (Times - Colonist story July 7, 2009)
British Columbia currently has three rails to trails corridors. They are the very successful and well used Galloping Goose Trail on the Island and two on the mainland, the Kettle Valley Railway Trail and the Great Northern Trail (Nelson to Salmo.) While these are significant, it should be pointed out that the much smaller province of Nova Scotia has made eighteen rail to trail conversions. The only trail with rail conversion in the province is the E&N in Nanaimo. It is a worthy goal to continue this trail for the full length of the E&N easement.
Can you imagine a safe, scenic recreational trail from Victoria to Courtenay - Comox and also across the Island to Port Alberni. This would be a giant boost to eco-tourism and would provide more jobs in many communities. The E&N Greenway (or whatever you choose to call it) could become a world class destination for hikers and cycle tourists as well as providing a wonderful recreational trail for B.C. families. We hear a lot about healthy lifestyles and this is one way that governments can support citizens developing a healthy lifestyle.
The provincial government spent millions off dollars to rebuild the trestles in the Myra Canyon on the Kettle Valley Railroad trail after they were destroyed by the wildfires in 2003. Vancouver Island deserves their support as well. This is also an initiative that should get support from the federal and municipal Governments. The provincial government can assure this happens by setting it as one of their priorities and encouraging the other levels to participate.
I would also like to see that the trains that use the existing railway have the capacity to carry bicycles. This is common in Europe, where cyclists use the train to travel to destinations and then use a bicycle while there. I could see myself travelling to Victoria by train and then using their trail system and roadways to explore the city. This would be a beautiful trip and would be one less car travelling over the Malahat ! Such trips could also be made to Duncan, Nanaimo, Courtenay - Comox, or Port Alberni. All it would require is greater frequency, a more sensible schedule and the capacity to carry bicycles.
Although these views are mine I have heard similar feelings expressed by other members of the Greater Nanaimo Cycling Coalition and members of the Parksville chapter of the Cross Canada Cycle Touring Society. I look forward to seeing positive steps being taken to make a recreational corridor / greenway a part of the existing E&N railroad.