Lake Country council will hold a special council meeting Friday afternoon where it’s expected they will move forward with the Alternative Approval Process in its attempt to borrow money and help purchase the old CN Rail line between Kelowna and Coldstream.
Lake Country had to delay the process earlier this week while the district awaited approval from the provincial government on the wording of its borrowing bylaw. But the bylaw has now been approved by the provincial government and council is expected to pass it Friday afternoon and set out the dates and process for the Alternative Approval Process (AAP).
The AAP will begin Jan. 14 and run until Feb. 23, 2015.
If more than 10 per cent of voters sign a petition in opposition to borrowing $2.6 million to purchase the rail corridor, the district as well as its partners in Kelowna and the North Okanagan Regional District, will have to find other ways to raise some $15 million combined that will go toward the $22 million asking price.
Lake Resident Roger Bailey was at Lake Country council earlier this week and spoke against the project.
“We’re moving ahead with this process before we have had any process open to the public to discuss what is going to happen if we do purchase it,” said Bailey. “This presents a number of issues for people along that right of way.”
Lake Country will make electoral response forms available at municipal hall where residents can sign their name against the borrowing bylaw. It will also be available on the district web site while two open houses will be held in Lake Country for residents to hear about the AAP process: Jan. 21 at Lake Country municipal hall and Jan. 22 at the Oyama Community Hall.
If borrowing proceeds, the average residential dwelling valued at $475,000 in Lake Country would see a tax increase of about $27 per year, a or 1.68 per cent increase
The negotiated price tag for the rail corridor is $22 million with Kelowna and the Regional District of North Okanagan also participating financially to raise $15 million.
Kelowna and NORD both have enough money in reserves to fund their portion while Lake Country must raise taxes plus will receive a $2.5 loan from Kelowna as part of the deal.
The rest of the money is expected to come from higher levels of government.