Comment: Many helped make the E&N Rail Trail a reality

A commentary by a View Royal councillor

Thank you, Capital Regional District, the Union of B.C. Municipalities, our NDP government, and First Nations for turning the E&N Rail Trail into a successful, very popular, multi-use green corridor.

In April 2009, the front page of the Times Colonist exclaimed, “Exploring a new path.” The photo on that 2009 page was taken in the same location where CRD CEO Bob Lapham and Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean were photographed cycling on Tuesday.

The E&N Rail Trail began as a youth concept project by the Rock Solid Foundation around 2000. A working municipal committee with Victoria, Esquimalt, and View Royal councillors took up that vision.

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These municipalities contributed toward the first feasibility study even though the rail line was still owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Back then, it was just intended to join up with the Galloping Goose Trail at the Thetis interchange.

I remember Denise Savoie, then a Victoria councillor, remarking how a circular trail (with the E&N and the Galloping Goose) would be popular with tourists.

Inspired by Nanaimo’s 1990s achievement to construct an eight-kilometre section of a “rail and trail,” a few then campaigned to move the goalpost all the way to Humpback Road and Goldstream Park. This was before the Trans-Canada and Sooke Wilderness Trail idea had any kind of traction.

As the CPR started pulling out of the Island, municipalities moved to enshrine the “transportation corridor” protection in their community plans to discourage the wholesale “breakup” of this essential service.

It wasn’t until 2003, when the Island Corridor Foundation was formed, and then acquired the corridor in 2006, when things really got rolling.

In 2007, the CRD formally endorsed the E&N as a regional trail, and the corridor foundation agreed to lease the land for the trail construction. Construction began in 2009.

Many people should be acknowledged for their vision and steadfast determination in pushing this regional trail plan in those early days.

To name a few: Savoie; former Oak Bay mayor Chris Causton, the CRD parks chairman at the time; Jeff Ward, Brad Drew and Don Watmough of the CRD; and John Luton, a cycling advocate.

I remember taking the “dog and pony” sales pitch to Langford, where the council was so supportive.

I am thrilled that Phase 3, Atkins/Millstream, will soon begin, and look forward to that grand opening as well.

When all 17 kilometres is finished, after Phase 4, it will be time for the mother of all parties!

Only five more kilometres to go!

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