- Our Town
Trail campaign picks up steam
Retaining the railway right of way from Sicamous to Armstrong received strong support at the July 17 Columbia Shuswap Regional District.
Chief administrative officer Charles Hamilton brought a letter from Electoral Area E director Rhona Martin to the board’s attention at the July 17 board meeting in Salmon Arm.
Martin, who was away on UBCM business, told Hamilton she had arranged for a meeting with the mayors of Vernon, Armstrong and Sicamous (and councillors), as well as representatives from the Regional District of the North Okanagan (RDNO), the Shuswap Trail Alliance and the Splatsin Band.
“At the meeting yesterday (June 25), each gave a brief comment on their thoughts on moving forward and, although we are not quite sure how to do this, it was determined that we must first speak to our own local governments to receive the mandate to be engaged in discussion about the rail line and what our next steps should be,” Martin wrote.
Hamilton advised the directors that Martin had been involved in initial discussions in 2009, talks that had stopped after the District of Sicamous determined the railway wanted more money than they were willing to pay.
“Work is now underway, the track material is being salvaged,” said Hamilton, noting the work was the impetus to get discussions back on the rails and Martin wanted the board to be aware and authorize her to represent CSRD. “She realizes the “rails-to-trails” concept is attractive but is also cognizant that we just don’t have the discretionary funds.”
Salmon Arm Coun. Debbie Cannon was enthusiastically onboard.
“I think all regional districts and municipalities need to show huge support for this. It would attract tourists from all over the world,” she said, noting Salmon Arm council wrote a letter of support and copied it to both the provincial and federal governments. “We need to be at the table and show support, it’s a huge opportunity…”
Sitting in for Mayor Darrell Trouton, Sicamous alternate Terry Rysz, agreed.
“We have been working on this for about six months and we are sending a resolution to UBCM,” he said. “With the province and community support, we may be able to pull this off.”
Area C South Shuswap director Paul Demenok called the trail a “brilliant and large opportunity.”
“I think we should get a committee struck, involving the CSRD, RDNO, municipalities and First Nations,” he said. “I think we need to be organized at our end before we enter negotiations – not do it piecemeal fashion.”
Mayor Nancy Cooper pointed out that the Healthy Communities Coalition and Shuswap Trail Alliance are also supporting this “healthy option.”
“I certainly will support whatever we want to do going forward,” she said.
The board voted unanimously to support board member participation in future meetings to discuss the possibility of protecting the abandoned rail line for future transportation opportunities.