Grindrod rail line still a focus despite cost

The Regional District of North Okanagan has decided not to presently purchase the 15 kilometres of track between Spallumcheen and Grindrod.

Maintaining public access to a rail line remains uncertain.

The Regional District of North Okanagan has decided not to presently purchase the 15 kilometres of track between Spallumcheen and Grindrod.

“We have let this opportunity lapse at this time at the price presented,” said Patrick Nicol, chairperson.

Canadian Pacific’s contractor, Okanagan Valley Railway, ceased line operations in August 2009.

CP is seeking federal approval to abandon the line, but the regional district wants to maintain public access to the land as a way of encouraging economic development.

The federal Canadian Transportation Agency lists the  total net value of the line as $3.2 million.

That value includes $1.8 million for the land, $1.2 million for the track and $105,338 for leases and agreements.

The deadline for RDNO to respond to a possible purchase was Wednesday.

Despite the cost, some local politicians aren’t giving up.

“We recognize the value of the property as a transportation corridor,” said director Howie Cyr.

“It’s important that we don’t abandon the issue.”

Along with possibly providing rail access to businesses along the route, other transportation options are hiking, cycling, cross-country skiing and motor vehicles.

“We’ve designated it as a transportation corridor in our official community plan so the value for (private) development is virtually nil,” said Cyr.

For Cyr, the next step is to bring together the communities along the route.

“I’d like to convene a meeting of the stakeholders, including First Nations, to see what their appetite is (for acquisition),” he said.

“We need to determine what importance we put on this property.”

It’s not known when a meeting may be held.