April 14, 2015 - 7:30 PM
OKANAGAN - Local municipalities won’t be getting a continuous stretch of land as part of an impending sale deal with CN Rail, at least not right away.
Oyama resident and former Kelowna councillor Colin Day plans to exercise his right of first refusal on a 700-foot section of the corridor on Crawford Road.
“I completely agree with a corridor from Vernon to Kelowna — I completely support that — but this is our personal, private property, and it almost feels like it’s under attack,” Day says.
His family secured rights to the property several years ago as part of a land exchange deal with CN. In addition to right of first refusal, the agreement also included a restrictive covenant that the land only be used for rail purposes, Day says. Complicating matters further is that a previous property owner constructed buildings directly on the railroad right of way, he says.
“Probably the easiest way to deal with it is to purchase the property and then deal with the other issues afterward,” Day says.
He’s concerned that a multi-use rail trail would interfere with his family’s security and peace and quiet on the lakefront property, but insists his privacy does not have to come at the cost of derailing plans for a recreational corridor.
“That’s utter and complete nonsense,” he says. “Lake Country has the old Highway 97 corridor (now Pelmewash Parkway) that almost goes to Vernon…. In other words, there is a Plan B, although they (municipalities) don’t want to talk about it.”
Doug Gilchrist, a spokesperson for the group of municipalities collaborating to buy the corridor, says plans are still going ahead to finalize a sale deal with CN.
“There are two property owners with right of first refusal, we’ve known that for a long time, this is nothing new,” Gilchrist says. “We’ve spoken with both of them, and are currently working with one of them directly on what a transfer of their interests to the City of Kelowna or District of Lake Country would look like. The other, Colin Day, has exercised right of first refusal to buy his right from CN.”
Gilchrist says there is no ‘Plan B’ as described by Day, only the original bid to acquire the corridor in its entirety. He says local government will approach Day with an offer to buy the land from him.
“If he has interests we can accommodate, we’ll accommodate them. He has property on either side and has an interest in making sure those interests are protected. I think we can accommodate him,” Gilchrist says.
As an April 25 referendum to borrow Lake Country’s share of the $22-million sale deal approaches, Gilchrist says municipalities are feeling positive.
“I put this transfer akin to the city buying a park, or way back when to (Vancouver) buying Stanley Park, something of that magnitude that will bring value to the region in the future,” Gilchrist says. “People may be second guessing it today, but I’m sure when it is bringing value to the community, no one will be second guessing it.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015