Vernon residents Dianne and Keith Hustler enjoy a walk on a section of the Okanagan Rail Trail which opened Saturday, July 29 off of McCarthy Road in Lake Country. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

The first rides on the official Okanagan Rail Trail

A test section of the Okanagan Rail Trail was unveiled Saturday in Lake Country

The Okanagan Rail Trail is coming along.

The Rail Trail Interjurisdictional Development Team unveiled a one-kilometre test section of the trail Saturday that has been developed over the past two weeks by Sureway Construction.

The trail has been widened with a smoother surface added in the section between McCarthy Road and Lodge Road in Lake Country.

Kelowna resident Sven Gravesen said he was looking forward to a bike ride with his grandchildren on the trail.

“We want to check out the few meters of the rail that we paid for,” he said. “We donated to the trail as this is very important to the community.”

Originally from Denmark, he said it’s safer to cycle there, but Kelowna is getting better.

“There are more bikes around but the bike paths are not what we hoped for. Just painting a stripe on the side of the road is not a bike path, it’s not safe so that’s why we like this,” he said.

“We’re looking forward to biking the whole way.”

A few different strategies were used to build the trail’s test section, said City of Kelowna regional projects manager Andrew Albiston.

The test section allowed them to gain a better understanding of how the rail bed was initially constructed, he said.

It was a bright sunny day for the unveiling and the “number of people have been phenomenal. There’s lot of questions being asked and a lot of positive reviews,” said Albiston.

The total cost for the kilometre is still being tallied.

Once completed, the trail will stretch 48 km from Coldstream to Kelowna. The project need’s just under $8 million to complete the trail. So far, the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative has raised 63 per cent of its goal with funds from community members and companies.

In the fall, the next section of trail will be developed to connect the path from Dilworth Drive to UBCO in Kelowna. It will be completed in the spring of 2018, said Albiston.

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