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Sicamous denied rail trail ownership

The district sought ownership of part of trail to address a conflict with dock owners.
Planning is underway for the Okanagan Rail Trail connecting Sicamous to Armstrong. (Supplied)

The governance committee in charge of developing the rail trail pedestrian path between Sicamous and Armstrong rejected a plan meant to address concerns of property owners along the trail.

The trail, a former railway corridor being developed into a pedestrian and cycling pathway, is owned by a partnership of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD), the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) and the Splatsin First Nation.

The owners of 22 properties along the west shore of the Sicamous channel were presented with an agreement for them to sign clarifying the rules for them to cross the trail from their properties to docks they have in place on the lakeshore.

According to a petition created by one of the property owners, some of them feel they were not consulted on the terms of the agreement and disagreed with the deal they were being offered. Among their concerns were a provision allowing the regional district to remove the upland owners’ docks on the lakeshore on 90 days notice, and refuse renewal of the agreement without cause.

The petition asked the District of Sicamous to expropriate the lands back into their control. As of Oct. 30, the petition had received 527 signatures.

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The District of Sicamous proposed they take control of the 1.67 km portion of the trail which falls within district boundaries at the Oct. 9 meeting of the Sicamous to Armstrong Rail Trail Corridor Governance Advisory Committee. The proposal was not approved, with the committee instead voting to send a letter to property owners explaining their decision to uphold the trail crossing agreements in their current form.

Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz said the district brought forward the new ownership scheme in response to concerns from area residents. He said it is not the district’s intention to hamper the development of the trail and he hopes an agreement favourable to all parties can be reached.

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In an Oct. 29 information bulletin explaining their decision, the RDNO, CSRD and Splatsin stated the present ownership structure is the most appropriate means to ensure equal treatment of all taxpaying citizens contributing to the rail trail. The bulletin states that 40,090 taxable properties pay towards the rail trail project, while the complaints originate from from 22 properties.

“These adjacent property owners are displeased with the format of required agreements, which will allow them to place private docks adjacent to the rail trail lands, allow them to connect to rail trail lands where necessary, and allow them to cross the publicly owned Rail Trail lands to access their private docks,” it reads.

The bulletin goes on to say the governance committee believes the agreements presented to property owners are a fair compromise as they allow owners who do not hold waterfront property to have a dock.

Docks not attached to waterfront property are not allowed on most lakes in B.C.

The agreements are based on the wording in previous CP Rail agreements, reads the bulletin, and concessions were made including increasing the notice of termination from 30 to 90 days.

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Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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