Herman Halvorson

Herman Halvorson

Communities unite over rail corridor

Agreement establishes groundwork for Splatsin and regional districts to pursue possible acquisition of the discontinued rail corridor

The bond between local communities has been strengthened through a shared vision.

On Wednesday, representatives from the Splatsin First Nation and the North Okanagan and Columbia-Shuswap regional districts signed a memorandum of understanding during a ceremony in Sicamous.

“Forty years from now, what we are doing today will have an impact,” said Wayne Christian, Splatsin chief.

The agreement establishes the groundwork for the band and the two regional districts to pursue possible acquisition of the discontinued Canadian Pacific rail corridor from Spallumcheen to Sicamous.

“We see the ability for common understanding,” said Christian.

“There are lots of details to work out but the fact that we are in the same room is important.”

Signing the agreement for the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District was chairperson Rhona Martin.

“I hope this is the first step of many we walk together. Let’s get this thing going, it’s exciting,” she said.

Representing the Regional District of North Okanagan was director Herman Halvorson.

“It’s a starting point and we will work together on a vision of trails from Sicamous to Armstrong,” he said.

The next step in the process will see all parties identify how purchase of the corridor may occur and how the necessary funds will be generated.

“That’s the big question,” said Halvorson when asked about the potential cost.

Christian is confident that a successful outcome can be achieved.

“Look at eco-tourism and what it can offer the region and the world. There are economic opportunities for the whole region, including our people,” he said, adding that the corridor was a traditional route for the Shuswap and village sites are nearby.

“It reconnects us with who we are as a people.”

Attending the ceremony were dignitaries from the Splatsin, Enderby, Spallumcheen and Sicamous.

“The potential for green tourism is huge and there’s the potential for other uses. In Enderby, we need to expand the highway,” said Greg McCune, Enderby mayor, who has praise for all of the parties involved.

“We’re united as a group. Right from the start, the Splatsin have talked about the whole regional thing.”