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March 14, 2023, 12:00 pm

Joint Statement by Transport Canada and the Province of British Columbia on Future of the Vancouver Island Rail Corridor

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
OTTAWA -  Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, and the Province of British Columbia’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Rob Fleming, issued the following statement:

“Over the last 18 months, British Columbia and Canada have carefully considered the future of the Island Rail Corridor. In support of our shared ongoing commitments to reconciliation, our governments have decided that reversion of the land bisecting the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation reserve is the first step in the process of developing a shared vision for the future of the corridor with First Nations.

“In September 2021, the British Columbia Court of Appeal asked the federal government to decide by March 14, 2023, on restoring the railway corridor or allowing a segment of lands to vest in Canada for the use and benefit of the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation. Since then, both governments have been reviewing studies, the Island Corridor Foundation’s business case, and undertaking analysis. The Province of British Columbia also engaged with First Nations, local governments and stakeholders to better understand perspectives on the corridor and shared the results of this engagement with the Government of Canada.

“There were many voices in favour of the restoration of rail infrastructure. Projected population growth, potential risks to critical infrastructure, including from extreme weather events brought by climate change, and wider economic and environmental policy objectives make this corridor of strategic transportation importance to the province. At the same time, those First Nations living along the line raised concerns about the impact restored rail service would have on their communities and have reiterated the importance of being involved in decision-making around the future of the corridor.

“Canada and the Province of British Colombia acknowledge the importance of this corridor. As a result, we will begin a formal engagement process with affected First Nations on the next steps of the corridor for the mutual benefit of the province and First Nations. A partnership-driven approach represents the best way for moving forward together and achieving a collective vision for the corridor that benefits everyone.”

View related statement Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure

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