It's definitely worth investing some public funds into the E&N Railway to ensure the struggling line doesn't disappear. But there are limits.
The Island Corridor Foundation's potential request that the Regional District of Nanaimo and 12 other local governments tax property owners $5.4 million to help fund repairs is going too far. We're glad that funding for the $15-million rail portion has been committed by federal and provincial governments, but taxpayers cannot be expected to continue to prop up a railway that has no guarantee of success.
Transportation experts point out that rail transportation only makes sense for hauling high-volume freight long distances. Vancouver Island provides neither of these factors. Even short-line railways in oil-rich Alberta have run into trouble, despite operating in far more resourcerich areas.
Also, we suspect that the crumbling E&N line will continue to need municipal taxpayer funding to keep it afloat. It's likely the ICF will continue to request additional hikes if other sources of government funding do not materialize.
Good for the ICF for trying its best to ensure the railway doesn't fail. But increasing municipal taxes isn't the answer.
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