Another First Nation on Vancouver Island is calling on the feds to halt plans for restoring a local rail line.
The tracks of the old E&N railway run through the Halalt First Nation near Crofton, B.C.
Chief James Thomas says the tracks have severed and restricted access to the reserve, caused social and economic losses and diminished land that could be used for housing.
He also says the train line undermined the cultural significance of the land and caused flooding.
A lawyer for the Halalt Nation, Erika Richards, says the land was also taken unlawfully.
“The reserve land was taken specifically for railway purposes and that meant that once it was no longer being used for railway purposes, the land should’ve reverted to the reserve land for each affected First Nation,” she said.
The 295-kilometre rail corridor is owned by the non-profit Island Corridor Foundation, which has advocated for the return of the train line since the early 2000s.
On Wednesday, five of the six First Nations members on the Island Corridor Foundation board resigned.
In a statement, the foundation said it was sadden but respected the decision.
It added that it will “continue to work with the provincial and federal governments to support the decision-making process while continuing to advocate for the equitable settlement of the historical and contemporary issues presented by First Nations in regards to the rail corridor impacts through their communities and unceded territories.”
The federal government has until March 14 to decide if it will pay to resurrect the island rail corridor.
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