Partners on the Okanagan Rail Trail continue to talk about how best to run the facility once its completed.
The Regional District of North Okanagan hosted political reps from Kelowna, Lake Country, Coldstream and the Okanagan Indian Band for a recent discussion.
RDNO chair Bob Fleming says no major decisions were made, but they are proceeding with talks about operation and administration.
“A bunch of issues came up, and it was just a chance to discuss the vision for the trail and the opportunities for cooperating and coordinating that,” Fleming tells KISS FM.
Fleming says the partners general appear to want keep keep governance of the trail within each jurisdiction, with no plan to put it over to a third party.
“Governance remains with each of the jurisdictions. There was no emerging goal that we hive off governance to a third party. Each jurisdiction purchased and will be responsible for maintaining their section and they want to be in control of those costs.”
“It was good to be involved in such a proactive meeting with other elected leaders from Okanagan Rail Trail owner jurisdictions today,” said Lake Country Councillor Blair Ireland. “As a public amenity, it is in the interests of all residents to have the local government owners of the corridor work to develop a coordinated approach. Having a meeting facilitator that specializes in governance was very helpful to keep the discussions focused.”
“Local governments and the Province of B.C. have invested $22 million in the purchase of the discontinued CN rail corridor running from Coldstream to Kelowna and in doing so these communities and First Nations have committed to preserving this corridor as a multi-modal transportation link that will enhance the social, environmental and economic health of the region for generations to come,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.
“We are optimistic about this opportunity and look forward to working collaboratively with our local government partners of the North and Central Okanagan to capitalize on this valuable corridor link,” said Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis.
Public access and use of the undeveloped rail corridor varies somewhat by jurisdiction but the public is reminded to stay away from any active construction on the corridor and respect signage identifying work sites.
Open House events held in Lake Country, Kelowna and Coldstream in early October provided the public with an opportunity to learn more about the construction of approximately 26 kilometres of trail (12 km in the RDNO, 5 km in Lake Country and 9 km in Kelowna) anticipated for completion in Spring 2018.
The remaining sections of the 48.5-kilometre trail will be built once the funding and all the necessary approvals are in place. Except for a 2.4-kilometre section near Duck Lake that runs through the Okanagan Indian Band’s IR#7 Reserve, it is possible that the initial development of the corridor could be completed in late 2018 or early 2019. The remaining section would happen at a future date, pending federal transfer of ownership of the land to the Band.