While some progress was made this year in multiple efforts to create a 200 km long walking/cycling trail from Sicamous to Osoyoos, the final product is still years away.

Getting all that work done depends on a multitude of factors but First Nations in the region play a major role.

On the northern end, the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail is expected to have one “test” section finished this year and another early next year.

Much of that work, such as the two-kilometre section in Enderby that is almost finished, is being overseen by the Splatsin Development Corporation. The Splatsin First Nation has been instrumental in acquiring and now developing the rail line as a trail.

“The project manager said if we had the go ahead on the next part, we could just keep going and probably get a lot of the trail finished in three or four weeks,” Phil McIntyre-Paul, senior consultant with the Shuswap Trail Alliance, told iNFOnews.ca. “They found the process really quite efficient.”

So, why isn’t that next section – or more of the entire 50 km from Sicamous to Armstrong – ready to go?

“Anywhere you touch the ground it triggers the question: is there cultural and archeological significance?” McIntyre-Paul explained. “Each piece they get done, they have to do the archeological assessment ahead of the corridor work. The whole corridor, for the most part, falls within a ‘high likelihood of archaeological significance’ so pretty much everything has to have a review.”

Further south, the Trail of the Okanagans Society is trying to establish a trail from West Kelowna through to Summerland (where no rail line ever ran) all the way to the U.S. border at Osoyoos along old Kettle Valley Rail beds.

A good chunk of the route from Trepanier Creek through Penticton is either on Penticton Indian Band reserve land or in areas covered by its South Okanagan Commonage Claim, filed in 2011.

“We have a board member who is a councillor on the Penticton Indian Band council,” Janice Liebe, president of Trail of the Okanagans, told iNFOnews.ca. “There are conversations going on there. There is nothing firm there. They have to go back to their own people and decide what they want to do.”

That doesn’t mean things haven’t been happening along the 200 km corridor.

Starting from the north, along with the test section in Enderby, another two-kilometre section from Sicamous south towards Mara Lake is ready to go to tender this winter so construction can start as soon as the snow melts next spring.

“It (test section) has given the Rail Trail owners the opportunity to build it and say: ‘Yes. This is working,’” McIntyre-Paul said. “But it also gives folks in the community a chance to say: ‘Yes. This is a real thing. I can see it, taste it, touch it.

“The only thing it doesn’t resolve is our impatience. We’re all going: ‘Oh please. Let us in. We’ve got our bikes lubed and we’re ready to ride to Sicamous from Enderby.”

That’s not likely to happen for two or three years yet.

It will likely be four to five years before the trail is completed with a crossing of Highway 97 A near Armstrong.

By that time, it’s also hoped that the Ribbons of Green Society in Vernon will have a connection built to connect Armstrong to the Okanagan Rail Trail in Coldstream.

That runs through to Okanagan Lake except for a six-kilometre section from Lake Country to Old Vernon Road.

While a call for tenders was issued last spring in the hopes of completing that trail this past summer, the federal government has still not turned over the land along Duck Lake to the Okanagan Indian Band.

READ MORE: 'Dream' of Sicamous to Kelowna Rail Trail quickly becoming a reality

On the west side of Okanagan Lake, the City of West Kelowna is expected to complete a section of its multi-use trail along Boucherie Road this fall and is working on a new connection from Campbell Road to Lakeview Heights.

But the Trail of the Okanagans Society’s hope is that the trail through Kalamoir Regional Park will be upgraded so it becomes the primary connection through the city from the Bennett bridge to Goats Peak Regional Park, although some of that will continue to be along roadways for some time yet.

The Kalamoir Park master plan is being updated and the new version includes that trail expansion but the plan won’t go to the regional district board until early next year.

No timeline has been set and there is not yet any money in place to do the work but regional district parks planner Sandy Mah said, in an email, she will propose the work be done within five years.

The City of West Kelowna is also looking at upgrading the cycle route along Gellatly Road towards the Westbank Town Centre, but not until 2029. A connection from there to Goats Peak, avoiding the existing steep hill and staircase, will depend on development through private land.

READ MORE: We are so close to a rail trail connecting Osoyoos to Sicamous

The next big link South of Goats Peak is an $800,000 switchback trail next to Drought Hill. Senior government funding could be in place by the end of the year so it can be built next year, Liebe said.

“We don’t recommend anybody go up Drought Hill on the highway,” Liebe said. “This would be the first trail that would connect from Peachland over to West Kelowna and I think that’s a big deal,”

The focus on the southern route is on connections that get people from place to place.

“Our strategy is to work from the north to the south and the south to the north,” Liebe said. “We’re trying to deal with the easiest low hanging fruit.

“There’s some pieces down further south we would like to get from the border up to Gallagher Lake and we would like to get from the bridge to Peachland and move from there because, as soon as you get longer sections of trail, you start to get people moving. People can see the vision and why it’s important to connect all these pieces.”

The key, going forward, is patience.

“It’s all we can do to curb our enthusiasm and keep supporting it,” McIntyre-Paul said. “The good news is, it’s happening and it’s happening thoughtfully and responsibly.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. SUBSCRIBE to our awesome newsletter here.