To the editor:
Re: Close-up: Rail Trail Possible for Old CN Rail Line from Kelowna to Coldstream which is found in the May 30 edition of Kelowna Capital News and at www.kelownacapnews.com.
This rail line currently serves the lumber business in the valley east of Vernon and has potential for a service from Kelowna’s airport to Kelowna’s downtown. This line is just a few steps from the terminal building. See it for yourself on Google Maps.
While conversion of a rail line to a cycling only trail, may be of huge benefit to cyclists, such does not benefit those in the rest of society who cannot cycle and cannot drive.
A rail right-of-way is typically “one chain” (66 feet) which leaves plenty of room for cycling on one side with an equal space available on the other side of the tracks. Examples of trail-beside-rail may be found in abundance, including the Esquimalt and Nanaimo (E&N) line on Vancouver Island. Both modes of transport can exist happily together and to the benefit of each: E.g., cycle for a while then ride by rail, etc. (See www.islandrail.ca)
If public bodies (regional districts) and First Nation groups in the Okanagan Valley are to do the right thing, it will be to join together with the province and bring this rail line into public hands. This is what happened on Vancouver Island when CP was wanting to divest itself of the E&N. The Island Corridor Foundation was formed, tax status was gained and the line became public when CP received a tax receipt.
Just like a ‘high-way,’ a ‘rail-way’ corridor is an irreplaceable ‘way’ for the movement of people and goods whether owned privately (CN, CP) or publicly (E&N). One which still has its rails in operating condition is a gem that must not be lost from public use.