Future of derailed railway on hold

Regional District of North Okanagan meet with B.C. transportation minister to get update on rail line between Spallumcheen and Grindrod

It’s still undetermined if a railway line will become a public asset.

Regional District of North Okanagan representatives met with B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom Wednesday to get an update on the rail tracks between Spallumcheen and Grindrod.

“The province does not have plans for the corridor but in the near future that position could change. They left the door open,” said Rick Fairbairn, RDNO vice-chairperson.

Canadian Pacific’s contractor, Okanagan Valley Railway, ceased line operations in August 2009, impacting businesses.

CP wants to abandon the line, but RDNO has been considering ways to maintain public access to the land to encourage economic development.

“The province is interested in the issue and understands the corridor,” said Patrick Nicol, chairperson.

Determining what could happen with the line has been delayed as the net salvage value of the land is pursued.

“The minister is working with CP Rail to get that done as soon as possible,” said director Howie Cyr.

“Nobody can consider the line until we put a tangible amount on it.”

RDNO has stated in the past that it does not have the funds to purchase the line, and a similar message appears to be coming from the province.

“Unless some arrangement can be put together with the federal government, in conjunction with the province and locally, not much will happen in the short-term,” said Fairbairn.

While uncertainty remains, the regional district insists there is a need to protect the rail line from being developed for uses other than transportation.

“Once the corridor is gone and developed, what do we do?” said Cyr.