A walk along what could be

Resident makes a pitch for the Okanagan rail trail proposal

On a recent Sunday, being about as nice a day as you can get at this time of year in the Okanagan, my wife and I went on one of our classic Sunday drives.

We chose to head south (we live in Coldstream) through Oyama, down the east side of Wood Lake, with the ultimate destination being part of East Kelowna and some section of the Mission Creek Greenway trail. We did finally get there, choosing the Scenic Canyon section which, of course, is quite pleasant. Even just the parking area and facilities were new discoveries for us. I didn’t read how long they’ve been there.

However, this turns out to be a case of, “It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey.”

In Oyama, we stopped first in the vicinity of downtown, across from the community hall, crossing the rail tracks to get to the beach along the north end of Wood Lake.

It was mild, calm and quite quiet. There was still plenty of colour left in the trees, especially on the east side of the lake and those upslope benches with all the orchards.  Along the lakeshore, the poplars were still showing their best hard yellow.

We, along with a man walking his dog, watched out over the lake as two bald eagles were circling. One finally swooped down to grab a fish — all quite wonderful and natural to witness. The day was so splendid and inviting, we decided to go over to the little boat launch area at the northeast corner of the lake and take a stroll down the railway. There is an actual pathway which eliminates the need to work your way along the actual railbed, which is sometimes awkward.

We encountered several others out walking their dogs or otherwise just strolling. We didn’t go much more than one kilometre south before heading back, but again, it was all most pleasant.

I have lived in the area, on and off, for almost 50 years.  In the past, I have walked a couple of other short stretches of the line closer to the Lumby junction, always enjoying being close to the lake and away from road traffic. In all of those years, and I don’t know how many times passing through Oyama, including the east side, I never once walked down that stretch of line we did this past weekend.

Yes, I guess for most of that time it was a working railway but it still could’ve been done.

The whole point of all this was how much my wife and I were impressed with it and what an opportunity it is for everyone. It truly would be a shame, a crime, if we lose it to, I don’t know what, private interests? This entire corridor is a gem that must be saved.

I must confess that I don’t know exactly where things are in the negotiation process right now but I hope it’s working to a positive outcome for the public. We can’t expect to have it given to us for free but by the same token, we shouldn’t be paying an unreasonably high price. I say we because if,  or when, it is acquired, it will be the various local and, I hope, provincial governments shelling out our money.

I am willing to put my money where my mouth  is. I know times and situations are different but, how much was paid for the Kettle Valley line, especially the Myra Canyon part that draws so many tourists and locals?  Would I walk or ride a bicycle along every inch of this line, you bet.

Just like the Mission Creek Greenway, and all of public trails and pathways everywhere, including all over Greater Vernon. They are such a good, civilized idea.


Mike Nicholls




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