Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Island Corridor Foundation Looking for $5.4 million from local governments

The ICF managed to get $15 million in federal and provincial funding for track improvements but this does not cover a $5.4 million cost for bridge upgrades.   The ICF has asked local governments to fund this portion of the project.   It seems mid island local governments have said no to this idea.

The ICF is not a very open organization, I have no idea what their finances look like and if it is currently sustainable.   The operating budget seems to be in the mid hundreds of thousands per year, this seems to be dramatically out of sync with the tens of millions involved with track repair costs.   You can see some details about their finances at CRA.   The value of capital assets of the ICF is $355,500,000 or so as of 2010.

Without the work on the bridges it seems to me that any other track upgrades seem pointless.   But when I look at the details of the report, the actual costs needed to upgrade the bridges for passenger service between Victoria and Nanaimo is only $1,119,800 this decade.  The Nanaimo to Courtney section requires $1,290,500 to allow for passenger service till 2021.   I am not sure where the quoted $5.4 million comes from as the total is only $2.4 million that I can see.  This is $3 million less than the $5.4 million number quoted.

The $2.4 million is not a huge amount to share between the municipalities and First Nations that are members of the ICF.   The sooner some sort of passenger rail service is back in operation the better for the whole ICF vision.  To put this in context, this is about the same amount that has gone into the new Nanaimo station building.

The cost per resident is minimal for this fix, only about $3.50 per person in the partner local governments or First Nations.   I can understand the desire of local governments to avoid becoming financially responsible for the costs of the line, but they sort of stepped up for that in 2004 when they created the ICF in the first place.

Clearly the lack of money for the bridge upgrade is going to delay the start on the track upgrades.   The Feds and Province came up with $15 million, asking local governments to come up with $2.4 million does not seem unreasonable, it is not even 1/3 of the costs.  Even if it was $5.4 million it would still only be 1/4 of the costs.
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