Current Conditions

Mainly Clear

NEWSMAKERS 2014: Okanagan rail corridor makes history

CN began ripping out rail ties in areas of Kelowna in 2014, and is expected to have all rail infrastructure gone by the end of 2015.
January 01, 2015 - 2:30 PM


VERNON - This year, Okanagan municipalities made history by signing a deal with the Canadian National Railway to buy a nearly 50-kilometer long corridor between Vernon and Kelowna.

The scenic stretch of land came available after the Kelowna Pacific Railway announced bankruptcy in the summer of 2013. CN Rail acquired the line and while it resumed service on some portions of the network, the section between Vernon and Kelowna would stay closed.

CN first offered the corridor to any company willing to reopen the line — something local manufacturing businesses crossed their fingers for. It wasn’t to be. The deadline passed and no deal was reached. It was the end of the line for the corridor as a railroad.

The process moved along, with federal, then provincial governments given the chance to scoop up the land. No deals were reached. Then it was local government’s turn. An acquisition team, comprised of the North Okanagan Regional District, District of Lake Country, City of Kelowna and Central Okanagan Regional District, was formed and work began to negotiate a purchase deal with CN, purportedly asking $50-million at the time.

The Citizens for an Okanagan Rail Trail stepped up efforts to raise awareness about the benefits a recreational pathway would bring, and in December, municipalities announced a deal had been reached for $22 million, plus a charitable land donation receipt.

While 2014 was all about acquiring the land, 2015 will likely focus on what to do with it. One of the most popular ideas for the corridor is as a multi-use rail trail, but municipalities say no decision will be made without ample public consultation. Right now, municipalities will only say the corridor is being preserved for all forms of ‘multi-modal transportation.’

And while municipalities have until April 9 to finalize funding sources and complete the deal, the Okanagan Indian Band has advanced a land claim on a large portion of the corridor. If successful, the claim would see the former Commonage Reserve, which stretches roughly from Oyama to the Vernon Army Camp, returned to the band. The First Nation has spoken out in opposition of the deal between CN Rail and local municipalities. It remains unknown whether the federal government will reopen the Commonage land claim.

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

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

  • Popular penticton News
  • Comments
  • Body of missing Cache Creek fire chief found
    CACHE CREEK - The body of Clayton Cassidy has been found. Around 10:30 p.m. yesterday, May 27, members of the Ashcroft fire department found his body during a patrol of Cache Creek, accordin
  • TRENDING NOW: Instant karma for angry dog walker
    When crossing a street we all pay attention to a car pulling up to an intersection, but this man seems to get really riled up for some reason. Of course, his threatening behaviour is under c
  • Firefighters rescue unexpected visitors during blaze battle in Calgary
    Calgary firefighters made an unexpected rescue when they were battling a house fire in the city's southwest. On Friday afternoon, a passerby called 911 to report smoking coming from a ho
  • Fire on Front Street
    PENTICTON - Penticton firefighters spent a hot afternoon battling a fire on Front Street today. Penticton Deputy Fire Chief Chris Forester said in a release Sunday evening, May 28, firefight
  • No, Okanagan Lake will not peak this weekend
    If you’re confused about projections for what Okanagan Lake is going to do over the next few weeks, you’re not alone. The City of Penticton issued a media release yesterday, May
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile