Lake Country proceeds with borrowing process for rail line

Residents will be asked to borrow up to $2.6 million to buy CN track

Lake Country residents will be asked if they want to borrow funds to purchase a rail corridor.

On Tuesday, council gave three readings to a loan authorization bylaw to borrow up to $2.6 million to fund the purchase of 50 per cent of the discontinued CN rail line within Lake Country.

“Many funding options for purchasing the discontinued CN rail corridor have been explored, including partnerships, grants, municipal reserves and/or borrowing,” said Michael Mercer, director of engineering.

“Each of the local governments involved is making every effort to minimize the current tax impact while securing a land asset that will be valued for generations.”

The negotiated price tag for the corridor is $22 million with Kelowna and the Regional District of North Okanagan also participating financially.

Lake Country must seek public consent for borrowing. The alternate approval process will be used.

“If fewer than 10 per cent of electors object, funds will be borrowed through the Municipal Finance Authority and will be paid back over a 20-year term,” said Reyna Seabrook, corporate services manager.

The loan authorization bylaw will be presented to council Jan. 6 for final approval.  Elector response forms will be available online and at municipal office and may be submitted by eligible voters in Lake Country who oppose the borrowing for 30 days. Exact dates for the AAP and availability of response forms will be discussed at the Jan. 6 meeting.

If the alternate approval process is successful, the average residential dwelling valued at $475,000 in Lake Country would see a tax increase of about $27 per year.

The Okanagan Indian Band opposes the sale of the railway corridor and says the land along Wood and Kalamalka lakes is part of its Commonage claim.