A coalition of Okanagan communities have signed a negotiated sales and purchase agreement with CN for the discontinued rail line between Kelowna and Coldstream.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to preserve a continuous, regionally-significant corridor with the potential to provide long-term public benefits for our residents,” said Doug Gilchrist, with the City of Kelowna on behalf of the regional partners.
“We are ecstatic to have reached a negotiated agreement with CN that both parties consider fair.”
The negotiated cost to secure the corridor is a combination of $22-million in funds and land donation.
Through the sales agreement, local municipalities will now have a 120-day due diligence period to lift conditions, which includes financing.
Local governments are making every effort to minimize the current tax impact in the interest of securing a land asset that would be valued for generations.
The specific land parcels fall within the jurisdictions of Kelowna, Lake Country, Coldstream and the Regional District of the North Okanagan, so funding options such as partnerships, grants, municipal reserves or borrowing will be finalized by those jurisdictions during the due diligence period.
Gilchrist says the local governments support the Okanagan Indian Band in its claim over land along Kalamalka Lakje and as such, those parcels have been excluded from the pending agreement.
The agreement stipulates that CN will attempt to remove the rail infrastructure from the corridor for salvage by the end of 2015.
Once the discontinuance process has concluded, and assuming public ownership is achieved,Gilchrist says local governments will establish construction and operation agreements; determine future costs and other considerations as part of protecting the rail corridor for future generations.
The jurisdictions have jointly identified the value the rail line could have as a continuous multi-modal transportation corridor connecting all the communities.