Crown corporation not funding South Island light rail proposal

Crown corporation not funding South Island light rail proposal
Courtesy the City of Coventry
The groups involved in launching light rail in Coventry, U.K. are hoping to get a similar project off the ground on the South Island.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank says when an entrepreneur reached out about funding for light rail on the South Island the Crown corporation said it could not be provided.

ThinkEco has made pitches to municipalities in the West Shore saying it would build light rail for the region at no cost to local governments.

This was possible, ThinkEco said, because the Canada Infrastructure Bank would provide funding.

However, when CHEK News asked the CIB, which is a Crown corporation that provides funding to municipalities for infrastructure projects, if it was providing funding the group denied this.

“The proponents had contacted our Investment team and were told the Canada Infrastructure Bank cannot provide funding, as requested,” Ross Marowits, manager of media relations and issues management for CIB said in an emailed statement.

“The CIB does not provide grants or make investments in R&D, pilots, or demonstration projects.”

The CIB says if the project moves into a feasibility study phase, the provincial or municipal governments can submit a request for advisory services and investment and at that time the project would be re-evaluated to see if it meets the standards for funding.

When asked about this response by the CIB, Stephen Kong with ThinkEco tells CHEK News he believes that the CIB is “self contradicting.”

“We did speak to the senior director and he went through each criteria and checked them off…so we are not misrepresenting,” Kong said in a text to CHEK News. “We are now splitting hairs over who funds just the feasibility alone. It sounds like the municipals can ask and they will agree. So it’s a protocol problem.”

Kong also says he has made it clear that funding for the light rail project has not yet been approved, which contradicts what he told View Royal council on June 20.

“We have the backing of the Canadian Infrastructure Bank and their interest is to promote any technology that would have zero emissions and this qualifies. So we had a series of discussions with the senior director and he’s agreed to fund the feasibility study up to a certain limit,” Kong said to View Royal council on June 20.

“The funding we have received, we do have also the possibility of getting more funding from the ZETF (Zero Emission Transit Fund) which is another part of Infrastructure Canada. So both of these people have been consulted and they agree that a feasibility study for six months would be a good idea.”

READ PREVIOUS: Entrepreneur drumming up support for ultra-light rail in CRD

-With files from CHEK’s Kori Sidaway

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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