A master plan for the Okanagan Rail Trail is currently being developed to ensure a balanced approach is taken when it comes to promoting recreational opportunities and protecting the environment.
Matt Vader, a member of the Okanagan Rail Trail committee, said the master plan will help enhance the user experience by improving facilities along the route, while also protecting the natural environment.
“A huge key is the protection of the natural environment,” said Vader, during a council meeting Tuesday night with the District of Lake Country.
“We’re not going to go put concrete structures along the lakeside. We’re looking to enhance it, not impede that.”
While the master plan is still in its infancy, he said it will likely include additional enhancements such as new parks, trail heads and parking lots.
“We’re trying to keep this collaborative with all the regional partners,” said Vader. “It’s super important to each partner to work together and recognize the Okanagan Rail Trail as a regional asset not just in Kelowna or Lake Country. We’re all working to make this better for the whole region.”
Once the master plan is finalized, he said it will also recognize the cultural and historical values of the region, including heritage sites and traditional uses by First Nations such as planting Indigenous grass and potentially building a cultural centre similar to the cultural centre in Woodsdale that will teach people about the former rail line.
Since Nov. 5, the rail trail committee has been working diligently to continue to improve the quality of the trail, including installing way-finding signage, creating an event management policy as well as a new logo.
“We’ve put in an event management policy which was approved by all the councils and board of the area to balance recreation and local use with the events that are very popular on the trail going from Coldstream to Kelowna,” said Vader.
“We undertook a branding exercise which is where our logo came from. There is a new website being developed that will be coming out in the next couple of months that does highlight the culture and history of the area, with some planning and interpretive maps and online mapping.”
For more information about the trail visit www.okanaganrailtrail.ca.