There’s still opportunity for the Shuswap to become a hub of one of the most ambitious trail projects in the province, provided more people get onboard.
The Shuswap Trail Alliance is asking the public to help in the push for government support of the Shuswap-North Okanagan rail trail concept that could potentially link Sicamous to other communities along decommissioned rail lines extending to the U.S. border. This includes a connection to the famous Kettle Valley Rail Trails.
The District of Sicamous, the cities of Enderby, Salmon Arm and Vernon, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and the Splatsin First Nation are already backing the plan, and this summer were successful in garnering support from the Union of B.C. Municipalities for a resolution calling on the B.C. government to “facilitate public acquisition and ownership of abandoned transportation corridors,” and to work with UBCM to develop a funding mechanism, such as a province-wide parcel tax, to help governments or community groups purchase and maintain corridors for public recreational use.
Still, for this to be successful, the Trail Alliance’s Lori Schneider Wood says communities along the proposed corridor better have a vision and a plan in place.
“I’d guess… there’s maybe a 20 per cent chance of pulling this through right now without having the government levels all saying no,” said Schneider Wood. “So that’s why it’s so important the communities have working groups ready when this is all done.”
Now she and the alliance are encouraging Shuswap residents, and Alberta residents with homes in the Shuswap, to help make the rail trail reality. She says Sicamous, in particular, should be onboard 100 per cent, as the community could benefit financially from being the northern trailhead or hub.
The trail alliance has an action form people can fill out and submit to their local government officials as well as the province. It can be found at http://www.shuswaptrailalliance.com.