The first of four scheduled open houses for the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail is in the books after residents came to the Splatsin Centre on Friday to give planners their feedback.
The 50 km trail will stretch from Sicamous to Armstrong, running through Mara, Grindrod, Splatsin and Enderby along the way. The Enderby open house was well attended, thanks in part to the Farmer’s Market held in the same building.
“The community seems to be quite behind it,” said project assistant Tracy Lundberg-Schimpf. “I’d say 95 per cent were positive.”
The rail trail is in the design phase, and once that’s complete the project will be ready to begin construction – as long as a few other pieces fall into place.
“A lot of it will depend on a federal government grant that we’re waiting for, and we should know by the end of the year,” said Lundberg-Schimpf.
“If all goes well we’re hoping to start construction in the spring, but that will depend on funding and fundraising.”
The rail trail is jointly owned by the Regional District of North Okanagan, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the Splatsin Band. Project planners are looking for any and all kinds of feedback, and oftentimes it’s the more specific that’s the most valuable.
Lundbeg-Schimpf said one man had brought to her a concern about location near Rosemond Lake where the rail trail might pose an access issue to a forestry service area.
“Some people have knowledge of this corridor that maybe we don’t have, so it’s lovely to hear from those people who have specific concerns that they’d like addressed,” she said.
While nearly all residents expressed their support of the project, there were a number of concerns related to the trail’s intersection with the highway coming through Enderby.
There are three more public open houses scheduled. The first is on Dec. 9 at Shuswap Lake Estates Community Centre, 2405 Centennial in Blind Bay.
Then on Dec. 11 the Sicamous & District Recreation Centre will host the public in its meeting room.
On Dec. 16 the displays will be set up at Oddfellows Hall, 3005 Wood Avenue, in Armstrong.
All three remaining open houses take place from 5 to 8 p.m.
Special meetings have been scheduled for landowners in the Agricultural Land Reserve adjacent to the trail.
“They’ve got different concerns than maybe the general public so we’re dealing with them separately for their specific concerns,” said Lundberg-Schimpf.
For those unable to attend an open house, feedback can be submitted on the rail trail’s dedicated website, shuswapnorthokanaganrailtrail.ca.
There is also a dedicated phone line (778-930-7245) and email address (email@example.com) for submitting feedback or getting information about the trail.