WATCH: A train has not run on the tracks for seven years. But taxpayers are on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain the E&N rail crossings. As Mary Griffin reports, there is more to spend.
The whistle of a train on the E&N tracks is just a memory. It’s been seven years since the E&N train travelled along there.
Riding bikes is the main activity these days along the corridor. And construction is expanding the E&N bike trail.
But the rail crossings will be upgraded, despite the lack of trains, said View Royal Mayor David Screech.
“This is considered an active railway, and because we are building the E&N trial on the Island Corridor property, then we are committed to, or responsible for, providing the proper road crossings,” Screech said.
To upgrade the Hallowell Road crossing in View Royal, the price tag is $215,000.
Next year, the Capital Regional District will spend another $430,000 to upgrade another crossing in Langford.
In total, eleven rail crossings are required to be upgraded, each with a bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is a waste of taxpayers money, according to the B.C. director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Kris Sims.
“Why couldn’t they figure this out years ago, and save the money if they wanted to. Save it up for infrastructure spending in the future but not waste it, year over year for an active rail line that’s not active. This doesn’t make any sense,” Sims said.
Last month, Premier John Horgan told a packed room of Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce members that a bus should travel along that corridor.
“It should be a corridor for moving people, and I’m committed to doing that, and that will happen in the term of this government,” Horgan said.
Then he repeated that pledge, again in Langford, several days later.
“We can incorporate a rapid bus in that corridor more effectively, more efficiently than we could rail,” Horgan repeated.
Every municipality with E&N rail crossings pays an annual maintenance fee of about $46,000. That adds up to a total of approximately $324,000 to taxpayers.
“I’m confident in the long run they will be used and not a waste. The asset we’ve got in the E&N trail is an amazing amenity for the whole region,” Screech said.