Vernon residents Dianne and Keith Hustler walk on a short section of the Okanagan Rail Trail which opened July 29 off of McCarthy Road in Lake Country.—Carli Berry/Capital News

Rail Trail open houses scheduled

Centraland North Okanagan residents invited to learn more about the Rail Trail project.

With construction set to start on the Okanagan Rail Trail project, Okanagan residents are invited to have a look at the latest plans for the trail and learn more about the upcoming work at three information sessions to be held in early October.

Construction of approximately 26 kilometres of compacted crushed aggregate trail (nine km in Kelowna, five km in Lake Country and 12 km in the Regional District of North Okanagan) is expected to be complete by next spring.

All information sessions are open to the public and residents of any jurisdiction. Staff and consultants will be available to answer questions about trail design, construction locations and timelines.

The session will be held in:

• Coldstream Tuesday, October. 3, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Coldstream Municipal Hall, 9901 Kalamalka Road

• In Lake Country, Wednesday, Oct. 4, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the foyer of Community Complex at George Elliott Secondary School, 10241 Bottom Wood Lake Road

• Kelowna, Thurs, Oct. 5, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Parkinson Recreation Centre, 1800 Parkinson Way

“Crews have already begun working along the trail to get it ready for construction,” said Andrew Gibbs, interjurisdictional development team project manager.

“Initial construction work is focused on environmental and archeological protection, mitigating potential geotechnical hazards and drainage improvements. Next steps, starting this fall, will be trail construction and safe road crossings.”

The remaining sections of the 48.5-kilometre trail will be built once funding and all necessary approvals are in place. Subject to funding, it is possible the initial development of the all but 2.4 kilometres of the corridor could be completed by late 2018 or early 2019. Those 2.4-kilometres near Duck Lake run through the Okanagan Indian Band’s IR No.7 reserve. Work on that stretch will occur at a future date, pending federal transfer of ownership of the land to the band.

Kelowna,Lake Country and the RDNO, along with the province paid $22 million for the former CN rail corridor that runs from Coldstream to Kelowna. And, in doing, made a long-term commitment to securing the corridor as a multi-modal regional transportation corridor, including its use as a recreational trail.

Due to the cost, and in light of other pre-existing community priorities, local governments are not in a position to make any significant financial commitment to development of a trail in the short-term. So a community-based fundraising campaign by the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative is underway to help pay the cost of designing and building a continuous basic trail from Kelowna to Coldstream via Lake Country.

Learn more at okanaganrailtrail.ca