Friday, November 28, 2008

$500,000 E&N Rail Line Study


The B.C. government is committing $5 million to provide property tax relief along the E&N line and to fund a key study of rail options on southern Vancouver Island, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Kevin Falcon and Small Business and Revenue Minister Kevin Krueger announced today.

The Province is allocating $500,000 for a study to determine the costs and viability of upgrading the E&N rail line for freight and passenger travel. The study will consider opportunities for expanding freight usage of the line, and for developing passenger rail services in support of tourism and for travel by residents.

“There’s growing interest in alternative forms of transportation on Vancouver Island, so the time is right to do a thorough business case analysis,” said Falcon. “This will provide us the basic information on costs and ridership that we need to responsibly assess transit options. With this information, we can make the investments that make the best use of taxpayers dollars and move the most people and goods in the most efficient and economical way.”

A request for proposals for companies to carry out the business case will be issued in the new year, for completion in 2009. Stakeholders and the general public will be consulted as part of the study. The findings of this study will complement a BC Transit-led study that is developing a long-term transit plan for the region and will be assessing rapid transit options from the West Shore to downtown Victoria.

In addition, the Province has eliminated the uncertainty around taxes owing under the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Belt Tax Act that may have been payable by the Island Corridor Foundation on its acquisition of the railway corridor. This potential liability was estimated at $4.5 million.

“Eliminating the uncertainty around the Belt Tax demonstrates government’s support for the Island Corridor Foundation as they move forward with their business plans to connect communities on the island,” said Krueger. “The Province is committed to addressing climate change through our Climate Action Plan which includes providing support and expanding options for public transit.”

The Island Corridor Foundation, a registered non-profit foundation, has as one of its main purposes the preservation of a rail corridor to connect all communities along its route with rail services.

“Its essential we take tangible steps to support economic growth on Vancouver Island, particularly in the challenging global economic climate we find ourselves in,” said Technology, Trade and Economic Development Minister Ida Chong. “Our successful management of the provincial economy over the past seven years leaves us in a better position than most to not only weather the financial storm, but be able to continue to support economic growth right around British Columbia.”


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