Vernon residents Dianne and Keith Hustler enjoy a walk on a section of the Okanagan Rail Trail McCarthy Road in Lake Country last year.—Image: Carli Berry/Capital News

New political direction for Okanagan Rail Trail

New multi-jurisdiction committee to manage rail trail project

The governance model for the Okanagan Rail Trail is taking on a new identity.

A recommendation coming before Kelowna city council at Monday’s meeting is to endorse creation of the Okanagan Rail Trail Committee, effective as of June 30, 2018.

Other stakeholders to be represented on this committee with Kelowna will include Regional District of North Okanagan, District of Lake Country, Okanagan Indian Band, District of Coldstream and City of Vernon.

Related: Okanagan Rail Trail receives federal funding

The principle purpose of the committee would be to manage the rail trail services, coordinate future development, address trail conflicts between jurisdictions and protect the long-term opportunities from developing the multi-modal transportation corridor.

The report to council makes no reference to possible hiring of additional staff to help carry out the rail trail committee’s mandate.

With CN’s discontinuance of its rail line between Kelowna and Coldstream in 2014, the various jurisdiction stakeholders between Coldstream and Kelowna united as an interjurisdictional acquisition team to work collaboratively to secure ownership of the trail corridor.

The acquisition team was disbanded in 2015 upon successful acquisition of the corridor.

Related: Regional officials share rail trail use insights

In order to coordinate design and development of the trail trail moving forward, the interjurisdictional development team was struck in 2015 with the Okanagan Indian Band joining this effort in early 2016.

Fundraising efforts have proven successful since with the target of $7.68 million expected to be attained by the end of this year, while construction on the trail began in 2017 and is currently 50 per cent complete overall. Substantial completions of most sections of the trail within the RDNO, Kelowna and Lake Country will be accomplished this year.

Some specific drainage, erosion, environmental and agricultural work will be followed up on in 2019.

The timing for development of the 2.3 km rail trail link through the OKIB Indian Reserve No. 7 is unknown at this time, and Agricultural Land Commission approval for use of certain sections of the rail trail have yet to be received.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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