Rail trail process moving ahead

Jurisdictions being asked to form team that will plan, finance and develop corridor

Establishment of a rail corridor is starting to take shape.

On Monday, Kelowna council confirmed that city’s participation in an inter-jurisdictional development team that will plan, design, finance, develop and maintain a continuous recreational trail along the discontinued Canadian National corridor from Kelowna to Coldstream.

“Local governments have invested $22 million in the purchase of the discontinued railway,” said Colin Basran, Kelowna mayor.

“In doing so, they have made a long-term commitment to the ultimate development of the rail corridor as a multi-modal regional transportation corridor, including use of the corridor as a recreational trail.”

Besides Kelowna, the purchase involved Lake Country, Coldstream and Vernon, and the regional districts of Central Okanagan and North Okanagan.

As a condition of the sale of the corridor, CN Rail is responsible for track removal and environmental site remediation. CN has until 2017 to complete these terms and construction on the corridor would only commence once those obligations are fulfilled.

Before any plan for development of the trail can be submitted for local government consideration, there will be a planning and design process which includes public consultation, cost estimates and development phasing.

“The timing and funding of any construction work will ultimately be at the discretion of the elected councils of the City of Kelowna and the District of Lake Country and of the board of the Regional District of North Okanagan and planned for in the annual budgeting cycles,” said Basran.

Basran says that due to the significant investment to purchase the corridor, and other pre-existing priorities, Kelowna is not in a position to make any significant financial commitments to development of a trail in the short-term.

“However, opportunities will be explored to work with the community, external fundraisers and granting agencies in order to secure the funds necessary to develop the corridor for recreational use.”