With more than 74 per cent of Lake Country voters approving of borrowing to acquire the Okanagan Rail Corridor through the recent referendum, local governments are advancing the purchase and sale agreement with CN.
“We are pleased to see that residents share the vision of a continuous corridor linking the communities of the Okanagan,” said District of Lake Country Mayor James Baker. “Protecting this corridor will have real benefits for our community today and into the future.”
With all funding partners now committed, next steps will include transfer of funds, land and lifting of the due diligence conditions on June 1.
“We are excited about this opportunity and look forward to working collaboratively with our local government partners of the North and Central Okanagan to capitalize on this valuable corridor link,” said City of Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, in a press release.
While the original asking price of the corridor was $50 million, the negotiated cost of the corridor is a combination of $22 million in monetary consideration and land donation for which the City of Kelowna will issue a charitable donation receipt.
“Regional multi-modal transportation opportunities are important to all communities in the valley and it is great that another major milestone has been achieved towards acquisition of this significant legacy for our communities,” said Regional District of the North Okanagan Board Chair Rick Fairbairn.
The City of Kelowna’s estimated share of $7.6 million would be funded from reserves and interim financing with no additional tax increase to residents. Given the regional benefits of public ownership, the City of Kelowna also agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding that would see Kelowna acquire a 50 per cent interest in the land within Lake Country boundaries on a temporary basis to abate the immediate cost for Lake Country residents and protect the agreement with CN.
The District of Lake Country will borrow up to $2.6 million to fund it’s 50 per cent interest in the land within Lake Country boundaries and Regional District of the North Okanagan will fund its estimated share of $1.9 million from reserves with no increase to taxes.
The Province of B.C has committed $7.2 million towards acquisition of the corridor.
The municipalities of Kelowna, Lake Country, Coldstream and Vernon, as well as the regional districts of Central Okanagan and North Okanagan, have jointly identified the value the rail line could have as a continuous multi-modal transportation corridor connecting all the communities.
Refer to kelowna.ca/OKRailCorridor for the most up-to-date information.