Lake Country endorses development plan for Okanagan Rail Trail

Once the survey work is done, Lake Country can begin to plan to raise money and pay back it's $2.6 million loan from Kelowna

Plans are moving ahead with fundraising starting soon for the development of the Okanagan Rail Trail.

The District of Lake Country is on board with plans to develop the Okanagan Rail Trail and hand over fundraising for the planned trail to the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative.

The latest plans to develop the old CN Rail corridor went before Lake Country council last week and council was unanimous in its support, passing motions to support the development of the trail as well as endorsing the vision and concept plan and committing to working with the Interjurisdictional Development Team (IDT) on the detailed plan for construction of the trail.

As expected the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative will work the fundraising aspects for development of the rail trail and Lake Country Mayor James Baker says he fully expects there to be plenty of donations coming forward, now that the municipalities involved in the purchase are endorsing the plan.

“I’m confident the money is there,” said Baker. “I have had people in the office who wanted to donate but now I think the groundswell will start again now that people know where they can write their cheques to.”

Planning for the initial phase of the trail is underway with the City of Kelowna, North Okanagan Regional District and Lake Country endorsing the plan and Baker says having the Okanagan Indian Band also as an active member of the development process means every jurisdiction is on board.

“They looked at what can happen in terms of benefiting the band and are now part of the team so I think that’s a major factor in fundraising as well, knowing that everybody is on board,” he said. “This trail is going to be an economic driver for the entire Okanagan Valley and we stand to benefit the most. We are at the centre of it and I think have the best stretch of the trail with the amount of lake shore that it traverses in our community.”

Baker said among the plans going on in the early stages are figuring out the exact property lines as well as any extra land that the district may be able to leverage to raise funds necessary if it wants to pay back Kelowna the $2.6 million the city loaned the district for half of the cost of the corridor running through Lake Country.

“As soon as all the survey work is done and we know where all the lot lines are and what is surplus to the tail then we can start looking at the business opportunities that go along with it and having any revenue go into a fund that goes to paying of the other half that we ail age to pay back eventually,” said Baker.

Lake Country paid $2.6 million plus borrowed $2.6 from Kelowna for it’s $5.2 million share of the $22 million dollar sale price.

According to the IDT CN Rail’s work to remove spikes, plates, rail and other equipment is expected to be done by the fall with start of trail construction still to be determined.

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