Okanagan Rail Trail moves closer to completion with farm issue being smoothed out

“We’re not going to start construction until we get ALC approval,” he said.

A bump in the road to completing the Okanagan Rail Trail has almost been smoothed out.

Andrew Gibbs, with the City of Kelowna, said an agreement has been reached with Bennett family who own a stretch of land bisected by the rail trail. The Bennetts initially raised concerns about how the three-kilometre stretch that starts just north of Old Vernon Road would impact their farm, prompting the Agricultural Land Commission to put a stop to moving forward the City of Kelowna’s application to roll out the trail.

Now it seems that conversations that started last fall have reached a positive conclusion.

“We signed a Memorandum of Understanding,” said Gibbs.

The Bennetts were specifically concerned about trespassers, illegal camping and equipment theft, among other things.

“We will put fencing on either side of the trail that’s six-feet tall and provide access (points) to cross the farm,” said Gibbs.

Gibbs said that it was simply a matter of giving the a bit more attention.

In the meantime, the trail is still closed.

READ MORE: RAIL TRAIL PURCHASE FINALIZED

“We’re not going to start construction until we get ALC approval,” he said.

It’s unclear when that may happen.

There’s also some Okanagan Indian Band Land that is in the process of being dealt with.

The Department of Indigenous Services Canada is facilitating the transfer of corridor ownership from CN Rail to the Government of Canada and deemed the lands for the use and benefit of the Okanagan Indian Band, through the federal Addition to Reserve process,” a report to Lake Country council said earlier this year

The land transfer is expected to be completed by late 2019, or 2020.

Approximately $7.8 million was raised through fundraising and grant opportunities from 5,089 donors to develop the 49-kilometre trail, which stretches from Coldstream to Kelowna. The trail had an official opening in Oyama in September.

Lake Country also still owes Kelowna for Kelowna’s investment in Lake Country rail trail lands. Kelowna paid $2.6 million for Lake Country’s portion of rail trail lands and interest has been accruing on Kelowna’s investment since Lake Country failed to meet its three-year interest free deadline.

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@KelownaNewsKat
kmichaels@kelownacapnews.com

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