August 01, 2014 - 4:45 PM
ARMSTRONG - The rail bed between Armstrong and Sicamous is shrinking with each passing day, and that’s launched rail trail proponents into high gear.
Phil McIntyre with the Shuswap Trail Alliance says the Canadian Pacific Railway has been pulling out the tracks over the past several weeks. Crews were seen this week in Armstrong removing ties and pouring fresh asphalt over rail crossings. The line was discontinued in 2009 and offered to federal, provincial and local governments but there were no takers.
With the track gone and the hopes of reviving freight operations go with it, McIntyre says interest in preserving the corridor as a greenway is building.
“We’re pretty hopeful. We haven’t seen folks rallying together like this before,” he says.
Columbia Shuswap Regional District directors recently voted unanimously to discuss the idea of preserving the line with its regional partners — among them the Regional District of North Okanagan, City of Armstrong and the Splatsin First Nation.
The line has not yet been put on the real estate market because CP must first consult and negotiate with the Splatsin Nation, McIntyre says. Those discussions are ongoing and closed to the public.
With the Okanagan Rail Trail initiative also picking up steam, McIntyre says people are starting to see the widespread benefits such an opportunity would bring.
When the railroad was first offered to government, McIntyre says “the timing was totally off and it was missed.” Municipal elections created a changeover in elected representatives and politicians weren’t working together the way they are now.
“Because it was so early on, folks just weren’t connecting the dots and there was still some hope at that point that rail line could be maintained,” he says. “There was interest, but they were having these conversations alone. Now it’s stepped up exponentially; everyone’s saying we’ve got to work together to make this happen.”
The Shuswap Trails Alliance has issued a call to action, asking people to send expressions of support to local mayors, councillors and MLAs.
Visit their website for more information.
This is all that remains on either side of Lansdowne Road after crews removed the tracks in this picture taken on Thursday, July 31, 2014.
(CHARLOTTE HELSTON /InfoTel Multimedia)
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014