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CN offers Okanagan railway to federal government

Brad Clements says the rail trail would offer a safe, scenic and accessible community pathway to tourists and locals alike.
June 03, 2014 - 3:27 PM

VERNON - Time has run out for interested parties to resume service on the section of rail between Vernon and Kelowna.

Monday was the deadline for companies negotiating with Canadian National to buy the line, and CN spokesperson Warren Chandler says no deal was reached.

“The time period has elapsed, now the 30-day window to federal government will begin,” Chandler says.

If the federal government does not act, the line will next be offered to provincial government for one month, and then to local government for one month.

The Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative is lobbying all levels of government to work together in preserving the corridor as a public trail.

"We either keep this land for public use, or it goes private," Julie Melanson, director of the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative says. "It's crunch time. We now have 90 days. By the fall this process will be decided." 

The railway meanders along the shores of Kalamalka Lake, Wood Lake and Duck Lake,  and passes the Vernon Okanagan College campus, UBC Okanagan and the Kelowna International Airport before ending in the district of downtown Kelowna.

Rail Trail director Brad Clements says it would be a huge loss if government passes up the opportunity.

“We really couldn’t ask for a better corridor for a community pathway—it would be a beautiful, safe way for commuters, tourists and residents to enjoy some of the valley’s most spectacular scenery,” says Clements. “We can make this happen but we need public support sent through the website to let governments know this is important to us,” Clements says.

The Okanagan Rail Trail group recently released the findings of an impact analysis. The results estimated the rail trail would bring $3.47 million in visitor spending and $1.17 million in employment income in its first year of operation, continually rising after that to as much as $7.1 million for visitor spending and $2.4 million in wages in ten years.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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