Splatsin rally for trail

First Nation urges region to get behind the purchase of old rail line from Spallumcheen to Sicamous

The Splatsin remain confident that an abandoned rail line will evolve into a community asset.

The Columbia-Shuswap and North Okanagan regional districts are proceeding with plans to acquire the abandoned Canadian Pacific line from Spallumcheen to Sicamous, and that includes seeking public support to borrow funds.

“We knew there’s a process they have to go through and this is part of it,” said Wayne Christian, chief if the Splatsin First Nation, which has lobbied for the 48-kilometre corridor to be preserved for local use.

“We’re grateful they are moving ahead and the public can talk about it.”

The total purchase price of the 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 Columbia-Shuswap Regional District, a service area will also be established to borrow $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 petition process will be used in both regional districts to gain voter assent for borrowing.

Christian hopes local residents will get behind the purchase.

“With the number of people I’ve talked to, they’re very excited. It’s definitely in the interest of the region,” he said.

“It will bring the region to the attention of the world through a trail and highlight our people.”

The Splatsin own a portion of the corridor.

“The Splatsin stepped up and realized this is an opportunity for all of us – if you benefit, we benefit,” said Rhona Martin, CSRD chairperson.

“It’s a wonderful partnership and we have had the opportunity to learn so much from them about their culture. They welcomed us to their offices, shared meals with us and I’d like to see them get the credit they deserve.”

Salmon Arm director Kevin Flynn believes the purchase is an investment in the future.

“I have been at this table for six or seven years and it’s not often you get to be part of something that changes the region for the better,” said Flynn.

With files from Barb Brouwer, Black Press