The eagerly awaited Okanagan Rail Trail officially opens Thursday.
Residents and visitors are invited to join the District of Lake Country, City of Kelowna, Regional District of North Okanagan, Okanagan Indian Band and funding partners for the grand opening.
The celebration will begin at 11 a.m. and will be held at the Oyama Boat Launch on Wood Lake located at 15455 Oyama Road, Lake Country. The boat launch will be closed for the duration of the event until approximately 2:30 p.m.
“In addition to supporting healthy, intergenerational activities and connecting communities, we are confident the Okanagan Rail Trail will become a magnificent tourism amenity adding to the local economy,” said Lake Country Mayor James Baker.
Following the ribbon cutting ceremony, attendees will take a celebratory trip along the trail to Woodsdale Road. (approximately 6.5 km) through any means of active transportation (e.g. walking, cycling).
“This trail is a valuable connection between the Central Okanagan and North Okanagan, and offers residents and visitors an alternative mode of transportation between our communities,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “In Kelowna, it connects neighbourhoods, town centres, the university, the airport and many recreational amenities in the city – helping to link people from their home to where they work and play.”
The Okanagan Rail Corridor spans 49.5 km from Coldstream to Kelowna’s downtown core.
“The completion of Phase 1 of the Okanagan Rail Trail would not have been possible without the generous support of the community, the collaborative work of the municipal and regional partners, and funding from the Government of Canada and Province of British Columbia”, said Bob Fleming, board chair, Regional District of North Okanagan. “I invite everyone to join us in celebrating this accomplishment.”
More than 24 km of the trail follows lakeshore, creeks and unique natural environments. The Okanagan Rail Trail will become a signature amenity attracting international travelers, contributing to the economy and increasing job opportunities.
“The Okanagan Rail Trail offers opportunities for all who use it to learn about the Syilx (Okanagan) people, our territory and part of the rich history of the Okanagan Valley,” said Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis.
While majority of the trail is open, the access between the Kelowna International Airport and Duck Lake is not yet open for public use. These lands are being reviewed by senior government through the federal reserve process and Agricultural Land Commission. It’s asked that trail users respect this closure.
The completion of the trail development is attributed to the community-based fundraising campaign by the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative (ORTI). The ORTI supported the work required to design and build a continuous basic trail from Coldstream to Kelowna by raising $7.8 million.
The Government of Canada provided nearly $1.4 million through the New Building Canada Fund, and $471,500 from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. Trail development also received nearly $1.3 million from Government of British Columbia through BikeBC and the Rural Dividend Fund.
For more information, visit okanaganrailtrail.ca.