Local governments have completed the purchase of the CP Rail Corridor between Armstrong and Sicamous.
The Regional District of North Okanagan and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District say the deal for the 43 kilometres of former track is worth 6.5 million dollars, with the BC government covering 2.17 million of that.
RDNO board chair Bob Fleming says the purchase will provide numerous benefits to residents including significant recreation and economic opportunities.
“But it’s a long term purchase. I think people may have to temper their expectations if they’re thinking they’re suddenly going to be able to get on a track in Armstrong and walk to Sicamous in 2019, but the efforts in that direction will start right away,” Fleming tells Beach Radio News.
Fleming says the next step will be for the participants to decide how to develop the corridor.
“All of them are kind of hopeful that they will get a little bit of interest — although it’s not clear where it will come from yet — for fundraising for development that might be along the lines of what happened with the ORT (Okanagan Rail Trail) where a dedicated group of volunteers took on the task of fundraising.”
There is also the long term possibility of connecting it to the Okanagan Rail Trail between Coldstream and Kelowna.
“In partnership with Splatsin and their segments of rail property, this strategic land acquisition will ensure the continued public ownership of a key linear corridor to be used for recreational opportunities, including walking and cycling, while retaining it for future transportation and economic development needs,” adds Fleming.
The deal does not include a number of sections owned by the Splatsin First Naiton, and is still waiting for a legal and environmental examination of the property to come back as being satisfactory.
“The CSRD is excited to continue to build on these relationships with the opportunities for regional economic and recreational development, as well as the opportunity to learn more of the cultural history of the rail line,” says CSRD Board Chair, Rhona Martin. “This new way of connecting our communities will go a long way in creating a stronger region. I am excited to see these benefits unfold.”
The RDNO and the CSRD have paid for the purchase on a 50:50 basis, with the RDNO securing funding through borrowing approved through public assent, and the CSRD funding their portion through a combination of borrowing and contributions from the Sicamous/Area “E” Economic Opportunity Fund ($250,000), and from the Revelstoke/Area “B” Economic Opportunity Fund ($100,000).
RDNO is using short term borrowing for its portion of the cost, about 2.1 million dollars.
Pictured: Bob Fleming, Regional District of North Okanagan chair