OKIB to ‘slow down’ CN corridor purchase deal

“It’s to, more or less say, ‘wait a minute, let’s put the brakes on this’…There are more issues to be resolved”—Okanagan Indian Band chief.

Whether Lake Country votes yes or no this week is a moot point to members of the  Okanagan Indian Band. Dreams of a rail trail from Kelowna to Coldstream are far in the offing, considering a significant chunk of the land isn’t legitimately up for grabs, said Band Chief Byron Louis.

Last month the band filed a legal injunction to slow the sale of the corridor until the matter of land title is cleared away.  The injunction is expected to be dealt with in court before the sale goes through.

“It’s to, more or less say, ‘wait a minute, let’s put the brakes on this’…There are more issues to be resolved,” Louis said Friday.  “Move ahead on the sale of the other portion, but for the 20 kilometres of the historic commonage, we’d like to put that on pause.”

The heart of the issue lies in B.C.’s history with First Nations commonage reserves.

In flyers it has circulated, the band says the Commonage Rail Corridor is a portion of the land allotted to them by the Joint Indian Reserve Commission in 1877.

Between 1886 and 1893 Canada and B.C. purportedly relinquished the band’s interest to the lands, but didn’t abide by the rules of the Indian Act when doing so. Therefore, the band claims the rights acquired by CN were limited to the use of the corridor for railway purposes only.

“When KPR went bankrupt and CN decided to abandon the entire rail corridor, the Commonage Rail Corridor, like the Duck Lake portion, should have reverted to reserve land,” they say.

If the courts support that claim, it means CN wouldn’t have the right to sell the stretch of land.

Also, Louis said the land is of special significance to the band.

“We had people who were still using it in the 1950s to 1960s, driving cattle to the south end of Vernon,” he said. “It’s not like we suddenly stopped using that area, or didn’t have an interest. We had aunts, uncles and family who put medicines through there, and there are fishing stations where the rail trail would be. There are a lot of connections to it.”

Louis wants to make it clear that the band isn’t at odds with the community—just this plan. “We are doing a lot of great things together, just not this,” he said.

A court date has yet to be set.


Just Posted

Lightning strikes West Kelowna condo

Fire crews were called to a building on Carrington Road Tuesday night

UPDATE: Smoke rising from Okanagan Mountain Park hills

Lightning may have sparked a fire in the hills across from Peachland

Lightning strikes across B.C. Interior

Residents are being asked to go inside until last rumble of thunder

Update: Lightning sparks blaze above Summerland

Firefighters are battling the small fire from the area that occurred Tuesday shortly after 7 p.m.

UPDATE: Crews battle wildfire near Big White Road

Joe Rich Fire Department responding alongside Big White Fire Department and provincial crews.

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Lightning sparks wildfires in Vernon

Tuesday night storm causes wildfire in BX and residential fire in East Hill

Crash closes Highway 5A in both directions

A collision has shut down Highway 5A about 22 kilometres south of the junction with Highway 97C

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Pike Mountain fire continues to grow – quadruples in 24 hours

Fire threatens area consumed in 2017 by a 3,500 hectare blaze

Vernon Knights hire Van Horlick

New head coach of Junior B franchise in Armstrong

St. Albert knocks down Canadians

Finals of Valley of the Champions

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Most Read