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Okanagan rail trail opening still a ways off as planning process begins

CN Rail still has to finish removing rail ties and conducting environmental remediation before work can begin on actual trail construction.
October 16, 2015 - 2:30 PM

OKANAGAN - Don’t plan a party around the Okanagan rail trail corridor being open for Canada’s 150th birthday as remediation, planning and construction are only just beginning and have been given an open-ended completion date sometime in 2017.

Despite the hopes of the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative, the leader of the inter-jurisdictional acquisition team Doug Gilchrist says he doubts there will be portions of the corridor that can open before the remediation process is finished.

“I wouldn’t expect it to be open at all until remediation (by CN Rail) is complete. We certainly wouldn't be encouraging anyone to use the corridor before all the construction is over. That’s something the development team would have to determine, whether it will be phased construction or full-construction to a minimum standard.”

Gilchrist and the other members of the acquisition team are asking their respective municipal governments to essentially turn it into a development team to guide the planning, financing and construction of the proposed multi-use corridor that would eventually extend 47 kilometres from downtown Kelowna to Coldstream.

The members of the new team would be the owners of the corridor - the City of Kelowna, District of Lake Country and Regional District of the North Okanagan, which paid CN Rail $50 million in cash and charitable receipts for the corridor, completing the sale in June this year.

While the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative has pledged to raise half of an estimated $10 million cost for basic trail construction, Gilchrist said the partner communities must also consider annual maintenance costs in their long range plans.

“After the acquisition, there’s not a lot of available funds right now and the level of construction hasn’t been determined. The timing and the form of construction will be determined by what the public wants to see happen and how well we do raising private funds.”

Gilchrist also said negotiations with the owners of two rights-of-way along the corridor continue. He described them as amiacable but said a deal still hasn't been reached.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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