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Rail foundation's board meetings to remain closed

Jan 22 2012

The Island Corridor Foundation has no intention of opening board meetings to the public, despite a challenge by a former board member, says its executive director Graham Bruce.

Much of the board's business is contractual or deals with land issues, so cannot be done in public. But every effort is made to keep the public engaged by posting information on the website and holding public workshops, said Bruce. "The meetings are not open, but they are not secret. It is like any other board of this character," he said.

There have been no policy changes on open meetings since the formation of the board, which is made up of 13 First Nations and five regional districts, Bruce said.

But Jack Peake, former Cowichan Valley Regional District chairman and ICF cochairman, said the intention was always to move to having public board meetings. "We feel this is a key component to get people involved in their railway and the decision-making process, to help build support," he said.

Peake, who last month formed the E&N Railway Action Group to act as an ICF watchdog, claims the ICF is too secretive and is not being sufficiently active.

The ICF owns the 290kilometre E&N Railway track on behalf of Vancouver Island communities and is trying to secure $15 million in federal and provincial funding, which would allow a passenger service to resume.

The main priority remains prying $7.5 million from the federal government, to match funding already pledged by the province, Bruce said.

The federal spur is likely to be an assessment of bridges and trestles along the line, likely to be released mid-February and it appears it could contain good news, he said. "We haven't seen any showstoppers yet."

The passenger service was halted last April because of concerns about the safety of the track. The ICF wants to restore service, with trains coming from up-Island to Victoria in the morning and returning in the evening.

Previously, they ran the opposite way, making them of no use to commuters.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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