Rail purchase plans proceed

The Columbia-Shuswap and North Okanagan regional districts have both given three readings to bylaws that would acquire the abandoned Canadian Pacific line

Residents are being asked to dig deep for the future.

The Columbia-Shuswap and North Okanagan regional districts have both given three readings to bylaws that would acquire the abandoned Canadian Pacific line from Spallumcheen to Sicamous. However, voter assent for borrowing is needed first.

“We are at first base and we will go from there and see what they (residents) say,” said Herman Halvorson, a Regional District of North Okanagan director from rural Enderby.

The total purchase price of the 48-kilometre corridor is $6.51 million, with $2.17 million coming from the provincial government.

RDNO plans to borrow its entire $2.17 million contribution, with the service area including Armstrong, Enderby, Spallumcheen, Lumby, Area D (rural Lumby) and Area F (rural Enderby).

Within the CSRD, a service area will be established for proposed borrowing of $1.83 million. The service area will include Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Area E (rural Sicamous), Area D (Falkland-Deep Creek), Area C (South Shuswap) and Area F (North Shuswap).

The remainder of CSRD’s $2.17 million will come from the Sicamous/Area E Economic Opportunity Fund ($250,000) and the Revelstoke/Area B’EOF Fund ($100,000).

An alternate approval process will be used in both regional districts to gain voter assent for borrowing. Over a 30-day period (dates have not been established), residents in the proposed service areas can sign a petition in opposition and if 10 per cent of voters sign in either service area, borrowing is defeated.

The other option was a referendum but regional district staff didn’t recommend that because of the tight time frame to close the purchase agreement. Subject removal clauses must be removed in 90 days.

Janice Brown, an RDNO director from Spallumcheen, isn’t concerned voters will deny borrowing.

“I absolutely know that they support this. We need to hold on to the land for generations to come,” she said.

The partnership includes the Splatsin, which owns a portion of the rail corridor.

More details to come