There are calls to turn the rail line from Coldstream to Kelowna into a recreational trail. Presentations have been made to Vernon and Coldstream councils about the concept.

Case made for rail trail

Vernon politicians are being urged to look beyond their boundaries and endorse plans for a recreational corridor

Vernon politicians are being urged to look beyond their boundaries and endorse plans for a recreational corridor.

Citizens for an Okanagan Rail Trail has presented council with details of a proposal for a hiking/biking network along the track from Coldstream to Kelowna if it is abandoned by Canadian National.

“We need all communities to agree to this and work in partnership,” said spokesperson Brad Clements, adding that there would be direct social and economic benefits to Vernon if the trail is created.

However, Vernon officials are demonstrating some reservations about the issue.

“None of it is in the city, so we have no say over it (land use),” said Coun. Catherine Lord.

“We are most strongly in support of the concept but it’s not in the city so we have to tread carefully,” added Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

Clements describes his group’s concept for a trail if private businesses aren’t successful in resuming freight traffic on the line.

Presently, parties interested in acquiring the line for railway operations have until Dec. 2 to make their intentions.

If there is no interest from the private sector, the federal and provincial governments will be asked if they want the property. If that doesn’t occur, local government will have between March 5 and April 4 to state if there is interest in acquiring the track.

Citizens for an Okanagan Rail Trail have received more than 1,236 e-mails from people who support the proposal, and about $30,000 has been raised for a feasibility study.

“We are a growing group of volunteers with a dedicated cause,” said Clements, adding that people are willing to donate towards purchase of the property.

It has been previously suggested it could cost between $15 and $25 million to purchase the 50-kilometre track.

Beyond municipalities, the group is lobbying the federal and provincial governments to get involved to ensure the corridor is a public asset.

“We will be sending packages to MLAs and MPs as to why this is important,” he said.








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