Support rail trail

Lake Country resident urges support for the borrowing referendum

Consider the purchase of the CN rail corridor strictly from a business perspective. If the District of Lake Country (DLC) invests in this heavily subsidized corridor, it will be the real estate deal of the century.

The purchase of the 17-kilometre corridor within Lake Country, much of it prime lakeshore, for $5.1 million (or under $50,000 per acre) is a real estate steal, made possible by the willingness of CN to accept a tax receipt for its large donation of land and the Clark government’s willingness to subsidize the purchase. The DLC must take advantage of this one-time opportunity.

The Government of Canada did not gift this land to the railway. Rather, CN purchased this corridor in fee-simple from private landowners.

When CN abandoned the rail line in 2013, local governments decided to purchase the land under the mandated abandonment process.

The original asking price was $50 million and after negotiations, a deal was struck for $22 million. CN will donate a large part of the corridor, for which it will receive a tax receipt from the City of Kelowna. The provincial government will subsidize the sale by contributing $7.2 million, taking no ownership position. The Regional District of North Okanagan and Coldstream will purchase their shares from reserves.

The City of Kelowna will pay for its share out of reserves. It has also agreed to help the DLC by purchasing a 50 per cent share of lands falling within Lake Country for approximately $2.5 million. With insufficient reserves, the DLC is required to borrow up to $2.6 million to complete the deal.

Ownership of this corridor opens up so many possibilities. As examples, the DLC could sell surplus rail corridor lands to purchase the City of Kelowna’s share; it could reserve the large surplus lands along the Oyama isthmus for a park; and it could lease land to adjacent owners for recreational, agricultural or commercial purposes. Most importantly, citizens of Lake Country will control their own future.

If the referendum fails and the DLC is unable to purchase the lands within its jurisdiction, the City of Kelowna has indicated that it may buy them. Why not?

It could recover its entire investment from the sale of surplus land, the most marketable being the extensive lands on the Oyama isthmus. It would receive income from leases extending far into the future and it would control development of a crucial part of Lake Country forever.

Those of us who have lived in the region for years will remember that the City of Kelowna gained control of the industrial-zoned lands south of Beaver Lake Road with a stroke of the provincial pen, and despite much subsequent handwringing on the part of Lake Country, Kelowna understandably refuses to turn over the land and associated tax revenues to the DLC.

Make no mistake about the implications of a Kelowna purchase. If Kelowna acquires all of the prime lakeshore real estate in Lake Country it will act strictly in its own interests. For example, if the DLC wanted to purchase land on the Oyama isthmus for a park it would buy it, not at the current heavily subsidized price, but at market value. Kelowna taxpayers would demand nothing less.

If the DLC purchases the corridor, it has indicated that it would, in partnership with a local stewardship group, consult with adjacent landowners in an attempt to mitigate negative impacts. One would not expect that neighbourly, community-building approach from a non-local owner.

Purchasing the rail corridor is not only an astute business decision, it allows the citizens of Lake Country to unite their community around a common vision and to control their own destiny.

I urge you to vote yes in the upcoming referendum.

Duane Thomson

Lake Country

 

Just Posted

Armstrong student shows skill at provincial finals

Aidan Eglin won the website development competition at Skills Canada’s B.C. finals in Abbotsford

Enderby Fire Department rescues kittens

Homeowner not aware kittens were in wood pile in yard near where garbage pile fire got out of hand

Township open burning winds down

Spallumcheen reminds residents of regulation changes as open burning concludes April 30

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: A sunny Easter Sunday

Temperatures will peak at approximately 20C region-wide

Mission to host Easter dinner for homeless

“From the staff, volunteers and guests of the Upper Room Mission, we wish you all a Happy Easter.”

Update: Fire destroys Peachland home on Somerset Avenue

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze

Pets still missing after Peachland home fire

Two Pomeranians and two cats are missing after fire

Regional district backs more consultation on plans to help caribou

It is feared that the caribou recovery plans could result in closure of backcountry areas

Kootnekoff: Easter Bunny legal woes

Several years ago, our young daughter needed to know: “Is Santa Claus… Continue reading

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Most Read