The Okanagan Indian Band has decided to join forces with the communities that purchased the old CN Rail corridor last year and move forward as part of a development team on the corridor which will be developed as a trail linking Kelowna to Vernon in the coming years.
Okanagan Indian Band leadership released the following statement Wednesday regarding the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative:
“Since our injunction application to reclaim our reserve lands affected by the proposed trail was denied last year, we have chosen to move forward in a new direction to ensure our involvement and demonstrate our desire to engage in positive discussions with our neighbours,” the statement read. “As the cultural gateway to the Okanagan, council seeks to partner on investments that will have significant benefits to the region. We look forward to actively participating in the planning, development and management activities of the (Interjuridictional Development Team), however our participation does not affect our title, or specific claims to the proposed lands.”
Of the 50km rail corridor that runs from Kelowna to Coldstream, just outside of Vernon, a 2.5km section of the corridor lies within the boundaries of the Duck Lake Indian Reserve 7. The band has designated Darcy Aubin, Director of Lands and Economic Development as OKIB representative on the four person working group.
Last year’s court injunction hearing surrounded the OKIB’s commonage claim of land that runs from Lake Country to Vernon.
The Okanagan Indian Band is located at the head of Okanagan Lake in Vernon, BC, and totals 11,282 hectares. There are currently about 1.688 Okanagan Indian Band members. Approximately half of our members reside on reserve while the other half resides off reserve.