Friends of Rails to Trails Vancouver Island (Fort-Vi) are a diverse group of individuals who believe they have a better plan for the E&N Island corridor that will benefit all Island residents.
The group’s vision is to create non-motorized, recreational trails on Vancouver Island for all users whether bikers, walkers, hikers, horseback riders or commuters. This trail would begin outside of Langford and could go as far as Courtney a total of 224 kilometers and a potential branch corridor of 64 kms from Parksville to Port Alberni.
Converting existing rails to trails would boost tourism economy and promote healthier living for locals.
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The project would maintain the railroad history by maintaining the historic railway stations as tourist information centers or kiosks which could direct people to local attractions and accommodation. The cost of developing the trail should be minimal as the salvage value of the steel rails could go towards a contract for their removal. Removal would be done with the least amount of disturbance leaving the rail bed in a condition conducive to immediate use of recreational traffic with the possibility of a top dressing of fine gravel or pavement in the future. Utility companies, such as, gas, water and power may wish to utilize the corridor for their infrastructure and by leasing out this opportunity, future maintenance costs of the trail could be minimized. With a multi-use trail in place the corridor will always remain intact and when future rail transportation is required, which may be quite sometime in the future, it could be constructed where needed, while relocating the trail alongside the new infrastructure.
By making active trail transportation a viable option for everyday travel we would cost-effectively reduce oil dependence, climate pollution and obesity rates while providing better choices to get around town. Rail-trails will encourage healthier, more mobile lifestyles for people of all ages and abilities by making places away from vehicle traffic to walk, bike and more. They support a viable alternative to the automobile and contribute to a more vibrant community interaction by connecting people to the places they live, work and play. They encourages people to get outside and get active by using the trail for local visiting and shopping and maybe even taking a Rail-trail vacation, seeing the countryside from a perspective once enjoyed only by train travelers.
With the imminent demise of rail service on the E&N it is time to seriously consider not putting any more tax dollars into maintaining a crumbling railway infrastructure and using the railway corridors for the development of non-motorized, multi-use trails. (info obtained from fort-vi website).
If you are interested in further information about this group and would like to sign their petition to promote this concept, click this link for access FORT-VI website