Communities considering options for rail corridor

Uncertainty exists after 10 per cent of Lake Country residents blocked borrowing of funds

Local communities insist they are committed to purchasing a rail corridor, but the next steps are uncertain.

With more than 10 per cent of Lake Country residents opposed to borrowing money to acquire the Canadian National track, funding partners will go back to their respective councils and boards to reconsider their options.

“We will need to consider our options but remain committed to acquisition of the corridor with our partners,” said James Baker, Lake Country mayor.

The funding allocation among jurisdictions represents the property value of the lands being acquired by each partner and falls within the jurisdictions of Kelowna, Lake Country and the Regional District of the North Okanagan.

“Government partners will need to determine what this outcome means for the negotiated sales and purchase agreement with CN,” said Colin Basran, Kelowna mayor.

“We are still hopeful Lake Country can find a viable alternative for funding their portion or that CN would be open to an extension that would allow time for a solution to be found.”

The negotiated cost of the corridor is $22 million and the deadline for the agreement to be finalized with CN is March 31.

Lake Country had proposed to borrow up to $2.6 million to fund the 50 per cent purchase of the corridor within its jurisdiction. Kelowna would have acquired the remaining 50 per cent of the property in Lake Country on a temporary basis.

Kelowna’s estimated share of $7.6 million will be funded from reserves and interim financing with no additional tax increase to residents.

RDNO will fund its estimated share of $1.9 million from reserves established for Greater Vernon with no tax increase.