MP REPORT: Support for rail line purchase

Colin Mayes provides his views on a proposed recreational corridor

Canadian National Railway’s rail corridor between Coldstream and Kelowna has been discontinued by CN Rail.

Discussion of the purchase of this corridor by all three levels of governments in the Okanagan Valley has been ongoing. The corridor in question is 49.5 kilometres in length, with two kilometres in Coldstream, 11 kilometres in the Regional District of North Okanagan, 2.5 kilometres on Okanagan Indian Band land, 16 kilometres in Lake Country and 18 kilometres in Kelowna.

Ron Cannan, Kelowna-Lake Country MP, and I have supported the acquisition by the province of B.C. and the City of Kelowna and we have approached our government to fund the remaining one-third.

One of the challenges for the government of Canada is that if it funds this acquisition, it opens the debate as to how many other jurisdictions across Canada have similar requests? That challenge aside, federal policy does not permit land acquisition on behalf of local interests or assets.

This does not diminish the positive support that MP Cannan and I will continue to provide to this opportunity to have the corridor become a recreational and tourism asset that has huge potential for the Okanagan Valley.

The positive news is that the improvements to the corridor in the future for a biking and walking corridor from Coldstream to Kelowna would be eligible for funding from the government of Canada.

I am also aware of ongoing discussion with Canadian Pacific Rail with regards to the decommissioned rail corridor from Sicamous to Armstrong.

Currently, the rail and ties are being removed and the corridor graded. This would also be a recreation opportunity in the area.

If you are in support of these projects, please communicate this to your local government or regional district representative.