It had appeared that political discussion over preserving public access to the rail corridor from Spallumcheen to Sicamous was completely sidelined. However, the issue is back on the table thanks to the Splatsin.
The Enderby area First Nation is showing great leadership by calling on all local jurisdictions to meet in the new year to determine how to acquire the abandoned rail line from Canadian Pacific and what the best long-term use of the property is.
“We are for working together collaboratively. We all have an interest and want to do what’s right,” said Wayne Christian, Splatsin chief.
The Splatsin have partly become a catalyst because the band recently obtained 20 acres of the rail line through legal action against CP and the federal government. But beyond that, the Splatsin see a number of opportunities that could arise if there is public control over the entire length of the old rail bed.
“It’s important that it be maintained as a transportation corridor,” said Christian.
Among the possible options are addressing congestion on parts of Highway 97A and developing a recreational trail that would attract tourists and bolster the local economy.
Yes, it will take a major financial investment from municipalities and regional districts to purchase their portion of the corridor from CP, and the ultimate price tag may ultimately bring the process to a halt. However, unless all players are at the table and open to discussions, the vision of a public link from the North Okanagan to the Shuswap will never materialize.
The Splatsin deserve praise for bringing the issue back to the table.