Okanagan Rail Trail one step closer to reality

By Pete McIntyre
April 19, 2016 - 10:33am

VERNON, B.C. — The plans are in place -- and soon it will be up to residents to get out their wallets to show their support for the Okanagan Rail Trail.

The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee has given its unanimous support to the development and fundraising plans for the 50 kilometre walking and cycling trail on the former rail line between Coldstream and Kelowna.

The City of Kelowna, District of Lake Country, and the Okanagan Indian Band still have to approve it as well.

A campaign to raise 7.8 million dollars from donations and grants to pay for it, will start in May.

Brad Clements from the Rail Trail Initiative says work won't start until they have enough to proceed.

"We are working with the IDT (Inter Jurisdictional Development Team) and the engineers to identify phases of construction, so if we could raise a few million dollars this summer, we could plan to begin some construction as early as this winter," Clements told the media shortly after making a presentation to GVAC in Coldstream.

Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund is confident residents will get behind it.

"This is something that is going to be around after we are gone and to to say that we had the fore thought to save this trail and make it into what it's going to be like, is something we can all be proud of," Mund told Kiss FM.

GVAC Director Mike Macnabb, representing Area C of RDNO (Silver Star-BX) supports the project, but hopes the fundraising doesn't drag on too long.

"At what point are we, as local government, now responsible to pick up the shortfall if that takes place? I hope it doesn't, but I think we have to be cognizant that that could take place," says Macnabb.

Coldstream Director Doug Dirk says his council has been 100 percent behind it.

"They've done some great work in planning and preparing. We are concerned about access and safety, which is all in the planning process as well. You've got to have good trail heads, so we will see how that evolves," says Dirk.

CN is currently removing the tracks and rail ties which should take until October.

Three local governments (Kelowna, Lake Country, and the Regional District of North Okanagan) and the BC government paid CN 22 million dollars for the line last year.


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