Okanagan Rail Trail fundraising keeps gaining momentum

Initiatives in Lake Country, Vernon and Kelowna helping to support efforts to raise money for the trail

Kelowna Wednesday night women riders from left to right: Judy Lloyd

From tea parties and lemonade stands, to matching customer donations, local residents and businesses are getting creative in raising funds for the Okanagan Rail Trail.

In early July, Donna Nicholas, long time philanthropist, runner and cyclist, hosted a tea party at her teahouse in South East Kelowna to encourage donations to the rail trail. The event raised more than $800, and allowed participants to share their excitement about the economic and recreational benefits of the trail.

‘The trail will be a great opportunity for families, children, seniors and visitors to use a route running along three lakes.  We all need to find ways to contribute to this legacy opportunity,” said Nicholas.

At Klub Kal, eight year old Taylor Denomme has been turning lemonade into donations towards meters of rail trail.  Serving up lemonade to volleyball players and thirsty cyclists, Taylor has made over $60 for trail development.

Local cycle shops in Vernon, Lake Country and Kelowna are selling rail trail technical t-shirts for $30, with $20 going to trail fundraising.

“The t-shirts are flying off the shelves, and I have had to make another order,” said Patti Sewell of Lake Country Cycle.

Together with some young helpers, Lake Country Cycle has also been contributing elbow grease to clean, recycle and sell 5 gallon buckets from the Greek House restaurant next door. So far, they have sold close to 300 buckets, with $1 from each bucket sale going to the rail trail.

Kelowna Cycle is not only selling t-shirts, but also matching donations from the Wednesday night women’s ride. The cyclists are contributing 10 cents per kilometer on their rides in July and August and Pat Rosen, owner, is matching their contributions.

People who missed the Canada Day matching donation campaign, will have another opportunity to double their donation on August 19 and 20.  Nature’s Fare stores in Vernon and Kelowna are offering to receive and match donations (up to $10,000 total) from customers who visit the stores those two days.

The community is stepping up to make the rail trail a reality.  So far, close to 1,400 people have donated money, 20 businesses are providing in-kind products and services to support the campaign, and 9 organizations or businesses have become campaign partners to hold fundraising events, or help spread the word.

“Although people are busy enjoying summer travel and activities, they are not forgetting about what the rail trail would mean for our future Okanagan lifestyle. It is great to see the range of community members and creative ideas being used to build the donations, one meter at a time” says Trail Ambassador Duane Thomson.

The Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative says they have raised 14 per cent of the total goal to build the trail, surpassing $500,000, enough to fund stage one of the building plan working on construction design and access control. The stage two goal is $2 million needed for rock scaling work.