The long, anxious wait is over.
After Kelowna-Pacific Railway filed for bankruptcy and the rumble of rail cars fell silent in July, community and business leaders wondered if a vital transportation link was gone forever.
But good news came on Thursday when Canadian National, the owner of the line, announced it would resume traffic from Kamloops to Vernon, Coldstream and Lumby.
“It’s a strong sign of confidence from CN in the North Okanagan,” said Kevin Poole, Vernon’s economic development manager.
Without the rail option, many businesses would have had to turn to truck transportation to ship products to customers or bring materials into the region. That would have created many operational activities and perhaps increased costs, and higher costs are something to avoid as the region continues to recover from the recession.
It’s also likely that prospective investors would have had second thoughts about Lumby’s industrial lands or the former glass plant in Coldstream if there wasn’t rail freight.
Obviously it would have been nice if service was continuing to Kelowna, but CN must also consider its bottom line.
Significant praise must be given to Canadian National. It’s nice to know that a large multi-national corporation has considered the needs of communities in the North Okanagan.
Thanks also goes out to Tolko Industries and the Teamsters union which played a key role in negotiations, as well as community advocates in Vernon, Coldstream and Lumby.
It truly was a team effort and it’s the entire North Okanagan that will benefit in the long run.