David Schilg, with MEC, gives a bike demonstration outside of the sports store Saturday as part of Okanagan Rail Trail ambassadors celebration of a recent $45,000 donation. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Much to be done before Okanagan Rail Trail completion

The OKIB still has not started construction on its section of trail

Okanagan Rail Trail ambassador Brad Clement is excited the rail trail is coming together, but much has to be done before the trail’s official opening.

There are three things that still need to happen for the trail to open; it must be fully funded, work must be completed between the partners and the Agricultural Land Commission to ensure there’s no conflict between the trail and agricultural land, and the process of transferring the CN rail land from the federal government to the Okanagan Indian Band must be completed, said Clement.

He isn’t concerned the Okanagan Indian Band has not yet started construction on its section of land. The CN rail is in the middle of being transferred from the federal government to the band, so work will begin once the transfer is completed.

“The original plan actually was to build no trail until everything is in place, so the alternative is to have no section open… at least now we have some amazing areas of trail.”

Clement has been with the project for the last five years.

“It’s been a fantastic, long ride.”

Kelowna’s section of trail from Dilworth Drive to the airport is expected to be open in September. Lake Country’s trail opening has not yet been determined.

“There are some 80 properties that are in the ALC along the trail, mainly in Lake Country and Kelowna… so ALC needs to work with the farmers to minimize the conflict between trail users and agriculture production,” said Clement.

Dogs will be allowed on the trail as long as they remain on a leash. Horses will not be allowed.

Research suggests other users will not use the trail because not everyone is comfortable with horses in an urban setting, said Clement.

“I can’t go around them, I’m highly allergic,” he said.

The rail trail has only $150,000 left before it is fully funded. MEC recently donated $45,000 to the trail and a sidewalk party was held Saturday at the store’s location in Kelowna.

Wade Janzen, sustainability and investment coordinator with MEC, said the donation came from avid biking staff who pushed the idea. “This community is so active, and there’s such a community force around it we wanted to be a part of it.”

The $45,000 will go towards retrofitting the bridge between Kalamalka and Wood Lakes.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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