Members of the Sicamous-to-Armstrong Rail Trail Corridor Interjurisdictional Governance Advisory Committee in discussions at a meeting held March 15, 2019 at the Splatsin Community Centre. (Tracy Hughes - CSRD photo)

More than 200 land agreements complicate rail trail effort

Some land agreements along Sicamous-to-Armstrong corridor date back to early 1900s

Partners behind the Sicamous-to-Armstrong rail will have to deal with more than 200 land-related agreements before the plan can become a reality.

It will be up to the chief administrative officers of both the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO) to address property and access issues along the rail trail corridor through the necessary 200-plus agreements involving land leases, crossings, access and easements.

This was one of the determinations to come out of a March 15 meeting of a Sicamous-to-Armstrong rail trail committee involving representatives from the CSRD, RDNO, the Splatsin Indian Band, the District of Sicamous and the cities of Enderby, Armstrong and Salmon Arm.

CSRD chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton said the agreements were assumed by the regional districts when they purchased the Sicamous-to-Armstrong rail corridor from CP in January 2018.

“These are agreements CP previously had with private landowners as well as utilities and municipalities,” said Hamilton. “Some of them have expired, some of them are about to expire, some of them still have a term on them, and it’s just a matter of cataloguing all of these. And also, not making decisions that would somehow impact the integrity of the rail trail as plans proceed to develop the trail.”

Hamilton said the work ahead on the agreements is much more complicated than anticipated, noting some of them date back to the early 1900s with no available records in the B.C. Land Title office.

“In certain cases, we have encroachments on there and before we renew any agreements, we want to make sure the actual corridor is unencumbered by anyone’s private belongings,” said Hamilton. “And we have a number of docks that have been installed that don’t have the proper authorizations, either from the province or the upland consent or co-owners (not the CSRD and RDNO).

“The province issues a tenure for a dock but if you’re not a waterfront property owner, you have to get the consent of the upland owner. A number of those are in place and that’s fine. A number of them don’t have agreements in place but they’ve gone and installed docks. So our challenge is trying to catalogue all of these, which we’re in the process of doing, it’s been a monumental task.

“We’ve come a long way, but what I thought was going to be a couple of months project has turned into a six-month project and is still not over.”

Read more: Columbia Shuswap directors endorse rail trail funds

Read more: Regional district seeks $13 million to get rolling on Rail Trail

Read more: Grant funding sought for rail trail project between Sicamous and Armstrong

Approximately $13.4 million in related grant applications have been submitted to the B.C. and federal governments. To speed up work in the project, the committee agreed to arrange meetings to lobby federal ministers for funding approvals.

“We need to pull together in the same direction,” said Splatsin Chief Kukpi7 Wayne Christian. “Now let’s harness up and get going.”


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