Partners committed to keeping rails with trails together

“We will need to consider our options but remain committed to acquisition of the corridor with our partners.”

With more than 10 per cent of Lake Country residents registering their opposition to borrowing for acquisition of the Okanagan Rail Corridor through the recent Alternative Approval Process, funding partners will go back to their respective Councils and Boards to reconsider their options.

“We are obviously disappointed about the outcome of the process,” said District of Lake Country  Mayor James Baker. “We will need to consider our options but remain committed to acquisition of the corridor with our partners.”

The funding allocation among jurisdictions represents the property value of the lands being acquired by each partner and falls within the jurisdictions of Kelowna, Lake Country and Regional District of the North Okanagan, so funding options are up to those jurisdictions.

“Government partners will need to determine what this outcome means for the negotiated sales and purchase agreement with CN,” said City of Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “We are still hopeful that Lake Country can find a viable alternative for funding their portion or that CN would be open to an extension that would allow time for a solution to be found.”

While the original asking price of the corridor was $50 million, the negotiated cost of the corridor is a combination of $22 million in monetary consideration and land donation for which the City of Kelowna will issue a charitable donation receipt.

The District of Lake Country had proposed to borrow up to $2.6 million to fund the 50 per cent purchase of the corridor within its jurisdiction. Given the regional benefits of public ownership, the City of Kelowna agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding that would see Kelowna acquire a 50 per cent interest in the land within Lake Country boundaries on a temporary basis to abate the immediate cost for Lake Country residents and protect the agreement with CN.

The City of Kelowna’s estimated share of $7.6 million will be funded from reserves and interim financing with no additional tax increase to residents.

Regional District of the North Okanagan will fund its estimated share of $1.9 million from reserves with no tax increase.

The municipalities of Kelowna, Lake Country, Coldstream and Vernon, as well as the regional districts of Central Okanagan and North Okanagan, have jointly identified the value the rail line could have as a continuous multi-modal transportation corridor connecting all the communities.

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Kelowna Capital News