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Rail trail a good, but expensive, idea: MP

The Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative (from L-R Julie Melanson, Brad Clements, Shawn Cameron, and Josh Dueck) is urging federal, provincial and municipal governments to work together in preserving the corridor.
June 10, 2014 - 4:40 PM

VERNON - Federal, provincial and municipal governments are discussing the fate of the Okanagan rail corridor.

Colin Mayes, Okanagan-Shuswap MP, says there was a meeting of elected representatives at the federal, provincial and municipal levels about the possibility of preserving the land for use as a recreational corridor.

“I feel the corridor is very important to the valley and a great opportunity,” Mayes says.

But he hears Canadian National’s price tag for the 50 kilometer stretch has been pegged around $15 million, and says it’ll be hard coming up with the money.

“What is the value to the community and to the region? All the stakeholders in the area have to determine how high we value it (land) monetarily,” Mayes says.

The Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative funded a study that pinpointed the trail’s economic benefit to the region in the millions.

“As nice as that is, the fact is if this costs $15 million, the math just doesn’t add up. This is not a value for money initiative,” Mayes says. “This is something I think will add to the lifestyle, the wellness of folks in the Okanagan Valley, and be a draw for tourists as a bike and walking path, but, we’re fooling ourselves if we think this is a make money opportunity.”

He says all levels of government would need to work together to finance the project. As part of the federally regulated process for discontinuing the line, the federal, provincial and municipal governments each have one month to make an offer on the line before it is put to market. The federal government has three weeks left to make a move before the line is offered to the province.

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

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
InfoTel News Ltd

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