Kukpi7 Wayne Christian shows his enthusiasm during his opening remarks of the Sicamous-to-Armstrong Rail Trail Corridor Interjurisdictional Governance Advisory Committee, while District of Sicamous Chief Administrative Officer Evan Parliament looks on. (Tracy Hughes/CSRD photo)

Progress made on Sicamous to Armstrong rail trail initiative

“We need to pull together in the same direction. Now let’s harness up and get going.”

A second Okanagan rail trail is gaining steam.

The Sicamous-to-Armstrong Rail Trail Corridor Interjurisdictional Governance Advisory Committee met Friday, March 15 at the Splatsin Community Centre.

Kukpi7 Christian, who was elected Committee Chair, spoke of the value of advancing the project for the entire region, likening it to a team of horses.

“We need to pull together in the same direction. Now let’s harness up and get going.”

Clearly in agreement with Kukpi7 Christian’s sentiment, the committee approved a series of recommendations to assist in advancing the project. These recommendations were then taken back to the Boards of both the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO), as well as the Splatsin Band Council for approval. The CSRD approved the recommendations at the March 21 Board meeting and the RDNO Board approved the recommendations at their April 3 board meeting. The recommendations will be part of the next Splatsin Council agenda.

See: Columbia-Shuswap directors endorse rail trail funds

Some of the recommendations set the foundation of the working relationship between the three partners, as well as the priorities and processes involved with the project. This includes a Memorandum of Understanding and Terms of Reference for the committees involved. The Committee endorsed the Terms of Reference and immediate establishment of a Technical Operational Committee to be comprised of staff from Splatsin, CSRD and RDNO. The Committee also endorsed appointing the Shuswap Trail Alliance to serve as Secretariat to the Governance and Technical Operational Committees.

To assist in addressing property and access issues in the CSRD and RDNO, the committee recommended empowering the Chief Administrative Officers (CAO) of both regional districts to make land tenure agreements under specific conditions.

There are already more than 200 known agreements dealing with land leases, crossings, access and easements to be addressed.

In order to fund the trail, grant applications totalling approximately $13.4 million have been made to Provincial and Federal programs, with the outcomes pending.

See: Regional district seeks $13 million to get rolling on rail trail

The timeline of work on the project rests heavily on obtaining grant funding for project planning and development. As such, Kukpi7 Christian, along with CSRD Board Chair Rhona Martin and RDNO Board Chair Kevin Acton intend to arrange meetings with Federal ministers to lobby for funding approval.

The undeveloped Rail Trail Corridor remains closed to public use at this time and the next meeting of the committee will take place May 17.

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