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North Okanagan politicians to consider rail trail pitch

The North Okanagan Regional District is being urged to consider the option of turning the railway into a multi-use trail if it does not resume operation.
November 08, 2013 - 9:48 AM

“CONCEPTUALLY, I DON’T THINK ANYONE’S AGAINST THE IDEA”

VERNON - At least one North Okanagan politician is hesitant to support the idea of a rail trail, largely because the district has been down that road before with poor results.

Vernon’s Brad Clements came before the Regional District of North Okanagan Wednesday to pitch the idea of a multi-use pathway on the now out of service railway tracks between Vernon and Kelowna.

“We believe that (rail trail) is worth looking at in the event that the rail is not operating,” Clements said.

“We’re not saying let’s go buy it, we’re saying let’s investigate it.”

Clements asked the board to consider working with other Okanagan municipalities and the provincial and federal government in investigating the option of turning the railway into a community path if efforts to resurrect the railway are unsuccessful.

Last week, Clements launched a website for the initiative and he said support has been flooding in.

“It’s pretty inspiring to read through these 707 comments,” Clements said.

He said similar projects in Victoria and Banff have seen tremendous results with more people walking, less vehicle traffic on the roads, and boosted tourism.

Director Mike Macnabb didn’t dispute the benefits the trail would bring, but said he was hesitant to support it.

“We’ve been down this road before. I would be perhaps a bit shy... I like the concept, I’ve always supported the idea of keeping that corridor for future use, (but) it really comes down to economics,” Macnabb said.

Clements insisted the Rail Trail Society would bring money to the table for an economic analysis, noting people have already pledged donations. What the cause really needs, Clements said, is more time than the 60 day process for selling off the line entails. If government begins to show support for the project, Clements believes an extension might be given.

“I can honestly say CN has an interest to make this happen,” Clements said.

The board received the presentation for information, but won’t make a decision just yet. Director Kevin Acton applauded the society's efforts and said he'd help the initiative in any way possible. 

“I’m encouraged that you’re getting this groundswell (of support)... perhaps that’s where we failed,” Macnabb said.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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