Two sections of rail corridor could be purchased by residents living next door.

Two sections of rail corridor could be purchased by residents living next door.

Talks proceed over rail line

The issue of the two homeowners with right-of-first-refusal won’t scuttle purchasing the rail corridor

  • Apr. 24, 2015 8:00 a.m.

If Lake Country residents vote yes Saturday on the acquisition of the CN Rail corridor, the issue of the two Oyama homeowners with the right-of-first-refusal won’t scuttle the deal.

In fact dealing with just two land-owners in a deal that includes 47 kilometres of land is unheard of when it comes to property acquisitions done by the City of Kelowna, according to Doug Gilchrist, director of community planning and real estate in Kelowna.

“There are 147 titles (along the corridor) and we only have a few that are at all in question which is really unheard of in this kind of acquisition,” said Gilcrhist, who noted any financial settlement with individual homeowners will come from the existing budget of the inter-jurisidictional team.

“There is only the two properties. We have met with one of them and are working with them to find a resolution and they are being very amicable.

“The Day family has chosen to trigger the right-of-first-refusal feeling that they are in better place to negotiate to try and have the track relocated to benefit the house. We are fine with that. It’s not ideal but we will work with them.”

Working with property owners not wanting to sell is something the real estate team at the City of Kelowna is used to.

The difference in the CN Rail corridor purchase is the length of the corridor and the fact there are a relatively small number of parcels owned by individuals that have to be negotiated with.

He pointed to past land deals that saw the City of Kelowna acquire private land to extend Gordon Drive or Highway 33 as examples where municipal staff had many files to work through before finishing the deals.

“Any new road that goes through might have upwards of 20 or 30 or 40 homeowners and we negotiate with every property owner and many of them don’t want to sell,” he said. “It’s not unusual. We find a way to meet their needs and make sure they are fairly compensated. This is absolutely commonplace. The only thing that is unusual is we are getting so much of it in one transaction.”

Gilchrist said in no way will the negotiations between the inter-jurisdictional team and the two property owners scuttle the deal to purchase the corridor.

“If the referendum is positive and if things are worked out with the Okanagan Indian Band challenge, we will complete the deal, take title and continue to work with them,” he said.

As far as the Day family goes, they are one of several homes that the rail corridor passes very close to. They have committed to purchasing the rail corridor from CN and seeing what happens with the referendum.

Moira Day says it’s been a difficult process to hear criticism from some members of the public as she confirmed there has been negatives written about them online.

“I try not to let it bother me,” she said.

“Those people don’t know anything about us. They just see us as a threat.

“We are merely trying to stand up for what is ours. This (rail corridor) is going to devalue our property so we have to think long and hard about it.”