February 10, 2015 - 2:34 PM
PENTICTON - The Okanagan's three regional districts like the idea of a continuous trail running from Osoyoos to Vernon.
The Regional District Okanagan Similkameen’s board chair and Chief Administrative Officer met recently with Central Okanagan and North Okanagan counterparts to discuss the possibility of a trail running the length of the valley.
“We meet with CORD and NORD regularly, to discuss matters of mutual concern and to find out what’s going on in each regional district,” said RDOS CAO Bill Newell. During recent discussions it was revealed joint negotiations were underway with Central and North Okanagan Regional Districts to purchase the recently abandoned CN rail line corridor running from Kelowna to Vernon.
“We were wondering about the possibility of a future trail running from the border right up the Okanagan,” Newell said, adding the two regional districts expressed an interest in the possibility as well. Newell said the two municipalities were currently working out purchasing arrangements for the rail corridor. Once that was complete, the three regional districts hope to begin working together to build a valley long trail.
“It’s been our priority, as voiced by the area’s residents, to develop a seamless network of trails through our regional district,” said RDOS Community Services Manager Mark Woods. He said the regional district was working to complete trails along the northern border at Summerland and Naramata, and a northern extension would be a “natural fit”.
“There would be two different processes by which that would happen,” he said, noting the east side of Okanagan Lake would continue using the Kettle Valley Railway right of way to the north, but on the west side the trail would likely have to take to the highway for at least part of the distance north of Summerland.
Woods said there was a huge movement for trail development within the RDOS and other smaller groups also worked with local municipalities to improve and provide trail access.
“The group ‘Trail of the Okanagans’ partnered with Summerland to provide a trail from Lower Summerland to Trout Creek,” Woods noted.
“Our role is to advocate and work with Electoral Area “A” and “C” ( Osoyoos and Oliver) to continue to build the trail to the U.S. border,” Woods said, adding the regional district has secured most of the former rail corridor through tenure applications with the province. Woods said the regional district hopes to have a development plan for the trail corridor finalized in 2015.
Discussions for tenure through Osoyoos and Penticton Indian Band land continue, and a few privately owned pieces of the right of way also require further negotiations.
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