The Okanagan Rail Trail is proving to be a popular destination

The Okanagan Rail Trail is proving to be a popular destination

Rail trail proving popular

Okanagan Rail Trail proving popular, Coldstream plans for impacts

It’s not even open yet, but the Okanagan Rail Trail is already making tracks as a popular tourist destination.

With locals and tourists frequenting the trail on a regular basis, Coldstream is getting on board with planning for the trail’s impact.

“Right now we’re seeing it with people coming in and filling up the neighbourhoods and it’s not even open yet,” said Coun. Glen Taylor.

Parking is a major issue Coldstream wants to tackle, along with short term rentals, which may increase as tourist demands grow. Therefore the tourism committee is being tasked with making these issues a priority.

“If we can give information and provide a place for people to seek information, such as where to park,” said Coun. Richard Enns.

While the Kalamalka Beach parking lot on Husband Road will be busy in the summer months, it could be used to accommodate rail trail goers in the off-months. Coldstream also recently purchased a two-hectare lot on Kalamalka Road next to the Alpine Centre for rail trail parking, among other things.

The tourism committee will:

  1. identify strategies to manage parking;
  2. identify rail trail access points and comment on any opportunities and challenges at those accesses; and
  3. determine appropriate communication/information for the community and visitors using the trail and how it is best distributed/communicated.

But council is struggling with the prospect of increased short term rentals in the area, including airbnbs and bed and breakfasts.

“We need to look at the measures on how to mitigate any impacts,” said Taylor, noting that there are no real rentals in Coldstream so the only opportunity is through airbnbs. “There has to be some things put in place so they can be monitored, so they’re not getting out of hand.”

The tourism committee will:

  1. identify what the demand is for this type of accommodation from the perspectives of the operators and users; and
  2. identify the community benefits and challenges of allowing this type of accommodation in Coldstream.

Coun. Doug Dirk questions what the benefit would be to Coldstream.

“Unless it brings us some revenue it doesn’t make any sense because it’s going to bring us problems,” said Dirk.

But as Taylor points out, if you build it, they will come.

“When you look at the rail trail, it’s happening whether there’s benefits or not.”

Coldstream’s tourism committee is being asked to discuss the issues and come back to council with recommendations.

Kelowna Capital News