Updated: Okanagan ‘rail trail’ will cost $8 million to build says Kelowna report

Kelowna city staff say the trail, on the former CN rail corridor between Kelowna and Coldstream, will require fundraising.

Update: Kelowna city council and the board of the North Okanagan Regional District have now both now approved the fundraising plan for the rail trail project. Approvals are expected in the next few days by the Lake Country council and the Okanagan Indian Band. Once they are in place the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative, which is leading the fundraising effort, will put the plan in motion and say it will be up and running by mid-May.

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Original story: Kelowna city staff say development of a 47.9-kilometre trail between the Kelowna and Coldstream using the former CN rail corridor will cost nearly $8 million now that the land has been secured.

And, according to a report to go to Kelowna city council Monday, the money required will have to be raised through a community fundraising effort.

Council will be asked to endorse the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative as the fundraising leader for the project but the staff report says there is currently no estimate as to how long it will take to raise the $7.86 million needed.

“The goals of the fundraising campaign are to raise the money to build the trail, relying primarily on donations,” said the report’s author, city senior project manager Andrew Gibbs.

He said to do so, the ORTI would use a “citizen-driven” model, as well as seek other funding opportunities, such as government grants and corporate and other organization sponsorships.

The former rail corridor was bought by a consortium of two local governments and a regional district last year. The consortium included Kelowna, Lake Country, the North Okanagan Regional District. The former rail corridor cost $22 million and included a contribution from the provincial government.

Earlier this year, it was announced a crushed gravel trail would be the first part of developing the route for public use.

The council report says in addition to basic trail construction, signs will be needed, drainage upgrades will be required, bridges will have to be built and rock scaling work will have to be done.

The proposed trail would be 4.6 metres wide.

Before the ORTI can start accepting donations, the fundraising plan must be approved by the municipal councils and regional district board of the communities involved.

The Kelowna council report gives no indication as to how long it will take to raise the money needed for the project but says trained volunteer fundraisers would be used—called trail ambassadors—and they would act as the “boots on the ground,” informing individuals and ad hoc groups about the scope and status of the project.