The Okanagan Rail Trail was more popular than ever this year, offering opportunities for locals to explore in a safe fashion amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and now a financial boost will see the Kilometre Zero trailhead improved.
The Community Foundations of North Okanagan (CFNO) awarded $72,000 to the project with its grant from the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative.
The COVID-19 response program, which has seen $31 million funded by the federal government and Community Foundations of Canada, helps communities build safer spaces and ensure a higher quality of life for Canadians.
The 50-kilometre Okanagan Rail Trail spanning from Coldstream to Kelowna has limited access points.
Now, with the Kilometre Zero project, trail users will have a safe place off-road to coordinate — complete with a plaza gathering space, hilltop viewpoint and interpretative installations celebrating the Syilx peoples and rich cultural values of Kalamalka.
“As summer begins and we feel the increased desire to connect with each other, these projects from the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative will help our community to connect safely and will benefit the mental and physical well-being of our residents,” said CFNO executive director Leanne Hammond.
“We are incredibly proud to be able to support the Okanagan Rail Trail in their campaign to develop the Northern Gateway into a beautiful trailhead and a unique public space close to Kalamalka Beach.”
The first phase of development was complete last year as trail supporters raised the funds necessary to naturalize the old rail yard.
Friends of the Okanagan Rail Trail just launched its Sunflower Campaign which will finalize the design to create the signature trailhead.
The organization aims to raise another $100,000 to complete the development by 2022.
Even with current grants and future potential granting awards, support from the public is still needed to complete the North Okanagan community’s signature Rail Trail gateway.