SUBMITTED PHOTO The old 90 km long Englewood Railway line could potentially be turned into a world class hiking trail.

Old Woss rail line to be reborn as world-class rail trail?

North Island officials giving the idea serious attention

A 2017 tragedy closed the unique rail logging operation that served as the hearbeat of Woss of years.

But now North Island residents are hopeful a new signature community asset can rise from the remnants of the historic rail line.

In June, Western Forest Products announced it would begin decommissioning of the 90-kilometre long Englewood Railway line this summer, a job expected to take 12 to 14 months to complete.

And that has regional tourism officials and operators wonder if there is an opportunity to work with ‘Namgis First Nations, to create a world-class hiking and mountain bike trail.

Kristie Eccleston and Cheryl Jorgenson, co-chairs of the Port McNeill Tourism Advisory Committee feel a multi-use trail, replacing the Englewood railroad would, “bring about more recreational choices to the local community and also draw more tourism opportunities to the area.”

“Of course, liability, safety and maintenance will be issues needing to be addressed,” Eccleston cautioned.

However, she was hopeful that with cooperation between ‘Namgis, municipalities, the regional district and other levels of government that: “We can find a way to make it work and see the creation of a trail that many can enjoy.”

The line — the last functioning rail logging operation in B.C. — ceased operating in the wake of an April 2017 derailment that killed three workers and injured two more.

RELATED: Vancouver Island loses its last logging train

WFP confirmed that while tracks and ties will be taken up, existing bridges and trestles will not be removed, and the rail bed will be graded to allow their trucks and equipment to pick up and remove the ties, hardware and rail.

WFP spokesperson, Babita Khunkhun went on to explain that, “any exploration of trail concept would be in collaboration with ‘Namgis on whose traditional territory the rail bed is located.”

The Regional District of Mound Waddington sees this decommissioned line as the region’s opportunity to create something similar to the successful Kettle Valley Railway trail in the Okanagan.

“If the ‘Namgis are interested, the regional district would help in anyway it could,” Pat English, Manager of Economic Development for the RDMW said. “We want to be part of the solution.”

Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom feels the benefits of a trail of this nature could offer an excellent opportunity to collaborate with the ‘Namgis to make a world class hiking trail that would draw people to the area.

Bruce McMorran of the Paddlers Inn certainly was intrigued.

“The rail line represents existing infrastructure, a heritage piece that could now be repurposed and used to support the growing importance of tourism to the North Island economy.”

Research conducted on behalf of Vancouver Island North Tourism indicates that more than 70 per cent of those visiting the region are looking to experience parks and trails with nearly 50 per cent specifying hiking as their primary reason for visiting the area.

– Bill McQuarrie article

Just Posted

WATCH: Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock pedals into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Volunteer LeMoine doesn’t get locks shaved but still finds a way to raise funds

Side Bay access confirmed as North Island forest service roads get a minor facelift

Remote beach route no longer ‘up in the bureaucratic air’ thanks to COVID-19 recovery funding

Vancouver Island parents say schools not appropriate voting stations

Elections B.C. says site of polling stations not yet determined, working with Dr. Henry’s office

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Duncan man at large after massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Neighbours concerned about proposed apartment complex on Island Highway

City says it’s early in the process, still, and residents will ‘absolutely’ have their concerns heard

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Money laundering inquiry delayed over of B.C. election: commissioner

Austin Cullen says the hearings will start again on Oct. 26

Lockdown quickly lifted at Nanaimo District Secondary School

NDSS was under lockdown mid-morning Friday, Sept. 25

B.C. salmon farms challenge activists’ demands for site closures

News reporting also unfair, inaccurate and distorted

Most Read