Carr’s Landing resident Cara Reed looks at property sale survey markings evident along the shoreline of Gable Beach. Image Credit: Barry Gerding/Black Press

Gable Beach and the Okanagan Rail Trail

The purchase of the rail trail is leading Lake Country to look for land to sell and pay back Kelowna

The proposed sale of a Lake Country beach is closely tied to the district’s purchase of part of the Okanagan Rail Trail more than two years ago.

The need to raise $2.6 million to reduce Kelowna’s interest in Lake Country’s portion of the rail trail has driven the potential sale of Gable Beach, a district-owned stretch of land.

This week district staff met with the representatives of the Carr’s Landing Community and Recreation Association to discuss the potential sale and according to a release get ” a win/win option and the understanding of two separate issues: The sale of public waterfront property (and) council’s intention to buy out Kelowna’s interest in the rail trail lands within Lake Country.”

The district purchased the rail trail lands through its borders at a cost of $5.2 million, a contentious purchase that went to the public twice in 2015. First, an Alternate Approval Process failed before the district went to a full referendum, which passed in April of 2015.

Lake Country was able to borrow $2.6 million and Kelowna jumped in with the other $2.6, with the understanding the money would be paid back within three years or interest would start to accrue.

Enter Gable Beach and the potential sale of the land to three home-owners in the area this year.

When Lake Country purchased the rail trail, there was talk of being able to sell excess lands on the old CN right-of-way, to make up the $2.6 million. There was also skepticism from those opposed.

However in a letter explaining the situation, Lake Country said there hasn’t been any excess rail trail land to sell and the Gable Beach sale would bring in $1.1 million to be applied to the debt to Kelowna.

Once word got out in the community, the district deferred plans to sell after a well-attended council meeting Nov. 7. That led to this week’s meeting.

“We received a petition against the proposed sale of land and heard from a lot of residents in the neighbourhood of Gable Beach at the council meeting,” said Mayor James Baker. “We are glad that staff has taken action so quickly on the direction from council to meet with the representatives of Carr’s Landing Community and Recreation Association. Council is always interested in hearing from citizens impacted by the decisions and strategic direction of council.”

District staff committed to inform council of the discussion and maintain an open line of communication with the Carr’s Landing Community and Recreation Association including advance notice of inclusion of the Gable Road end lands on future council meeting agendas.

The proposed Gable Beach sale isn’t the only hiccup Lake Country has faced since purchasing the trail. There is still the ongoing lawsuit from an Oyama landowner who is suing Lake Country over the expropriation of his land, of which the rail trail dissects.

The entire rail trail was purchased from CN Rail for $22 million between Kelowna, Lake Country, Coldstream, the North Okanagan Regional District and the Okanagan Indian Band, who joined the inter-jurisdiction team after first attempting to block the sale, saying CN Rail had an agreement to return OKIB its traditional land.

The Supreme Court denied an OKIB injunction application and the band eventually decided to join the development team.

However it’s portion of the trail near Duck Lake is not scheduled for development, while outstanding issues remain between the band and senior levels of government.

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