Okanagan Indian Band announces involvement in creation of rail trail

A portion of the CN Rail corridor in Lake Country.

OKANAGAN - The Okanagan Indian Band is getting involved in the planning and construction of a rail trail between Kelowna and Vernon.

In a media release issued today, Feb. 17, the band announced it joined the inter-jurisdictional development team working on building the trail. The initiative was undertaken by a coalition of local governments in 2014.

The band took a land claim for a portion of the discontinued track to B.C. Supreme Court in May 2015, but was turned down. Now, the band says it is taking a new approach to ensure its involvement and wants to work together with its neighbours.

“As the cultural gateway to the Okanagan, council seeks to partner on investments that will have significant benefits to the region. We look forward to actively participating in the planning, development and management activities of the Inter-jurisdictional Development Team, however our participation does not affect our title, or specific claims to the proposed lands,” the band says in a statement.

Of the 50-kilometre rail corridor that runs from Coldstream to Kelowna, a 2.5-km section of the corridor lies within the boundaries of the Duck Lake Indian Reserve 7. A larger section runs through the former Commonage Reserve, which the band says was never lawfully surrendered. 

Darcy Aubin, director of lands and economic development, will represent the band on the four person working group.

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

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