There was much debate when the Regional District of Nanaimo agreed to split its contribution to the Island Corridor Foundation into two parts Tuesday night, but not much of it was on topic.
The motion on the table was to split the $945,000 RDN contribution to the ICF into one $404,500 and one $472,500 payment over the next two fiscal years. However, much of the debate centred upon whether the regional district should be providing the funding at all.
“My concern is that an announcement will take place (about VIA Rail service) and there won’t be enough funding for it to actually happen,” said Qualicum Beach director Dave Willie. “I want it very clear that this funding will not go until a train is able to ride on the tracks.”
Nanoose director George Holm agreed.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said. “We spent all afternoon cutting half a million dollars out of our budget and all we had to do was say no to this and then pass our budget with all the stuff we need, rather than throwing this money away in front of a train.”
Although he also opposed funding the railway, Deep Bay-Bowser director Bill Veenhof urged his colleagues to stick to the motion at issue, rather than debate whether or not the money should be provided.
“That ship has sailed,” he said. “We aren’t talking about the railway funding. We are talking about splitting that funding.”
That didn’t deter those opposed to the railway funding.
“If somebody says in eight months’ time that whoops, we don’t have enough money and … more money is required, then what happens?,” said Parksville director Marc Lefebvre
District general manager Paul Thorkelson refused to comment on such hypothetical situations however, stressing that the decision to provide the funding has already been made.