I never made it Astoria. Jill endured a last-minute medical issue and off course I could not go and leave her alone. Jill is fine now. Thank goodness! I’m disgusted that I missed my Fisher Poets Gathering but life is a series of dead-ends and disappointments. That’s the way the pickle squirts and you have to look for the good part when you hit a bump in the road. Last weekend was very snowy, all the way to California. I could have been stuck down in Astoria, sampling their wonderful local craft beer and fresh seafood; survival food That’d be terrible! Maybe next year! Because I was home, I happened to discover an article in the “Times Colonist,” our island rag, and wrote the following response. You may not know or care about the debacle which is our island railway, but I believe it is a backbone of our economy and civilization. It is appalling to me that anyone can consider abandoning it forever.
Providentially, the very next evening I caught a documentary about the Ukraine Railway system. An upgraded number now has the number of evacuated folk fleeing invasion at nearly four million. There is of course no civilian air travel within the Ukraine, roads are impassable and so the rail system there is a prime weapon and defense supply line. The Russians bomb it incessantly and the Ukrainians make repairs with even more determination. Their skills have improved out of necessity. Jobs that once took a week can now be done overnight. It critically underscores the importance of a railway to any country and its regions.
There is an argument that Vancouver Island does not have a large enough population base to support a modern rail line. It has occurred to me that the single piece of infrastructure which became the foundation for the nation of Canada was our transcontinental railway. The population then was a mere fraction of our present and rapidly growing number of Canadians. Enough said. I’ve also sent a copy of this letter to our Provincial Transport Minister, Rob Fleming.
There are lots of snow photos in this blog. I’m trying to see the beauty. I’ll try to find new adventure for my next post.
I respond to your front-page story in today’s edition titled “First Nation says it’s end of the line for Island railway. ” Every progressive nation around the planet struggles to develop environmentally friendly modern railways in a bid to improve their infrastructure. Why do we need to continue this debate? Ukrainian Railways, for example, with over 19,000 kilometers of rail line, has been the life-saving implement in that country’s effort to defend itself. In the past year of it’s horrible invasion, nearly 4,000,000 people have been transported to safety and the network continues to be a prime supply artery.
On Vancouver Island, permission for the E&N Railway was provided to Robert Dunsmuir to help exploit the mineral and timber resources of this island. The Provincial Government of the time even provided funding to that MLA for the railway’s development. Now it lies abandoned, a bizarre story of nepotism, exploitation and gross mismanagement. To turn this valuable asset over to any regressive interest would be a poignant footnote to this saga of epic tragedy.
However: let’s look at our rail line in a positive light. Logging companies, over the past century, have built a macrame of rail grades over the entire island. It would be no great feat to extend the E&N railway all the way to the large population of Campbell River. Employment once required me to travel the Island Parkway (Itself viciously opposed at one time) in the small hours of early morning. That highway is very busy with traffic in both directs in the middle of the night. Where all those folks are going at all hours is a mystery, but people clearly need to travel. Consider a newly built electric rail line which would join Campbell River, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, and all points in between to Victoria, just think of the environmental sense. The passenger service would need to run at regular intervals of a few hours, going both ways, round the clock. Think of the relief to our ever busier highways and the simple savings of fossil fuel. Think green, act green. The cost of the rebuild would prove a wise investment.
A container port could be built near Port of Alberni with a direct rail link to mainland Canada via Nanaimo. Can you think of a better contingency plan in the event of the massive earthquake we anticipate? What an economic stimulus that would provide to Vancouver Island. Add a couple of steam-powered excursion trains for our tourist industry and develop a marine link on classic ships between Victoria and Port Alberni. Run the route both ways, it would soon be a world famous attraction. The possibilities are as limited as anyone’s imagination.
If we give away the existing remnant of our rail line, we will never have the opportunity to reclaim it. We are desperately overdue for this piece of basic infrastructure on Vancouver Island. It is essential for the future of our beloved island. I am a retired caucasian male heterosexual married man who has tried to earn a living in the resource industries of British Columbia. I understand I am part of a group we can call Canada’s “Last Nation,” but if this geezer can think out of the box, so can the rest of us. We just have to think of what we can achieve by working together. Special interest groups pulling against each other ultimately achieve nothing.
Even if you are on the right track you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers