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Support grows for Armstrong-Sicamous trail

LACHLAN LABERE

Black Press

The City of Salmon Arm is joining the push to preserve the rail line between Sicamous and Armstrong for recreational use.

City council agreed to write the province in support of local government acquisition of the deregulated rail corridor for the establishment of a hiking/biking greenway.

Coun. Chad Eliason championed the motion, arguing council has to look to the future of the region and sustainable transportation.

He said that while the rail line wouldn’t impact Salmon Arm directly, it could have positive ramifications for the region.

“That railway can take you right to Enderby, Armstrong, all the way through to wineries, the Kettle Valley Railway with the trestles and tunnels.

“It is part of a bigger picture and although it isn’t directly within our territory, it’s definitely within our tourism area, it’s within our economic area and it’s really important, I think, that we preserve this in the short-term and do what we can to lobby to protect it for the long term. Maybe for rail transportation, but long term rails and greenways for sure.”

Eliason noted how the Larch Hills Traverse ends at the rail line in Sicamous.

Council supported the motion, including Mayor Nancy Cooper, who said the Shuswap Healthy Communities Coalition will be sending a similar letter of support to the province.

Both Cooper and Eliason noted the city’s letter would also be a show of support for neighbouring governments that are also looking to preserve the rail line.

On June 24, representatives from the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District, the District of Sicamous, Splatsin First Nation and the cities of Vernon and Armstrong met to discuss ways to preserve the rail line as a transportation corridor, potentially for recreational use.

From that meeting, District of Sicamous officials volunteered to draft a resolution to the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

The resolution states that UBCM should become the owner of these transportation corridors and should ask the province to institute a province-wide parcel tax, similar to that levied by the Municipal Finance Authority on property tax notices, to help in their purchase and maintenance.

The rail line is currently in CP Rail’s real estate group, and work has begun to remove sections of track near Armstrong and Enderby.

 

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