With less than two weeks left for donations to be matched, Okanagan Rail Trail Ambassadors are hoping that the change of season has not dampened the community's enthusiasm for trail construction.
“Since October 1, when the matching campaign began, about $126,000 has come in”, reports Brad Clements, “We had hoped for a strong campaign that would increase our ability to be successful with large upcoming grant applications, and prepare for substantial work next spring". If fundraising momentum slows, it will take us longer to get a properly constructed trail”, adds Clement. “It would also be unfortunate to not to take advantage of the $500,000 opportunity the group of seven anonymous trail supporters have provided.”
One of the ‘group of seven’ who has pledged $250,000, says that her enthusiasm is unwavering. “I am totally behind this project. It is so much more than a trail, and will have so many regional benefits. In my neighbourhood in Lake Country, I love to see the enthusiasm when hikers or bikers experience the route for the first time” she says. “I am more worried that a loss of momentum could affect the network of volunteer trail ambassadors and campaign partners working so hard to make this happen.”
Rail trail ambassadors are currently working on an application for the Rural Dividend Fund, and will apply for Bike BC, a grant that has recently announced increased funding and accelerated deadlines. “Both of these grants, require base funding for the trail that will come from donations. The more donations secured this fall, the better the probability of receiving these grants, potentially worth over $1.3 million combined", says Brad Clements, trail ambassador.
"With strong community support, it is possible to finish the trail in 2018", says trail ambassador Duane Thomson. One group particularly anxious for trail development is students commuting from Kelowna to UBCO. “They are very concerned, particularly about the safety of road crossings on their current route” says Thomson.
Another user who would love to be able to use the trail soon is Maurice Stong, from Vernon. Last week, Maurice set out to experience the corridor starting from Kalamalka Beach. Riding in his specially adapted Terratrike, Maurice loved the route, but found the surface too rough, and had to cut short his trip and return to Vernon via the highway from Kekuli Provincial Park. Maurice is fit, and not afraid of hard work and a bumpy ride, but says, “I cannot risk damaging the bike that provides my freedom.” Last year, Maurice moved to the Okanagan from Manitoba on his Terratrike, towing his wheelchair.
“There are so many people excited about the rail trail, and who appreciate the urgency to stay on track”, says Thomson, “We need to spread the word to friends and family, and get those donations in. I have faith that the community will come through”. There is also an opportunity to raise funds and donate at the Kal Tire Garage Sale in Vernon this Saturday.
The October matching campaign will be begin October 1st and end on October 31st. Seven anonymous donors will match all donations received during this period.
Donations can be made by credit card, paypal or debit online at: https://okanaganrailtrail.ca/donate. Donations by cheque can be sent to either of the community foundations listed below. A gift of securities (stocks or bonds) can also be arranged with the foundations. All donations greater than $25 will receive a tax receipt.
Community Foundation of North Okanagan
#304 – 3402 – 27th Ave
Vernon BC V1V 1S1
Phone: (250) 542-8677
Central Okanagan Foundation
#225-1889 Springfield Road
Kelowna, BC V1Y 5V5
Phone: (250) 861-6160
Kal Tire Garage Sale, Saturday October 22, 9am-1pm. 1540 Kalamalka Lake Rd, Vernon BC
The campaign is truly a community effort. Four local governments (City of Kelowna, District of Lake Country, Okanagan Indian Band, and North Okanagan Regional District) are working together to plan and develop the corridor into a multi-use trail. The Community Foundation of North Okanagan and the Central Okanagan Foundation are collecting donations and providing tax receipts. A volunteer group of Trail Ambassadors are working with Campaign Partners and Business Partners to raise awareness and inspire donations. The Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative is supporting the campaign by organizing materials and information. It truly will take a community to build this legacy.
Progress as of Oct 15:
5.68 km funded (over 11% of 48.5 km funding goal)
Current Target Trail Construction Stage 2 - $2,00,000 for rock scaling and environmental work – 28% to target
Previous Target - Trail Construction Stage 1 - $500,000 for design and access control – 100% to target
35 Trail Ambassadors
13 Campaign Partners
23 Business Partners
The trail is not yet developed.
$7.86 million - estimated cost to construct the first phase of the trail (a continuous compacted crushed aggregate trail 4.6 m wide along the corridor with way-finding signage, access control and road crossing upgrades).
Corridor improvements and trail construction will involve 4 stages:
Design & Access Control – design build plan for trail and gates/barriers controlling access to trail.
Environmental / Rock Scaling – includes all environment analy and permitting and work to ensure bridges, walls and cliffs along trail are safe.
Intersection Control – systems to control all trail/road intersections
Construction & Completion – includes all costs associated with widening and construction the trail bed and surface. This includes costs of engineering, archaeology, surveying, site preparations, vegetation, signage and way finding, and materials.
Each stage can be scheduled once the targeted amount has been raised for that stage
Spring 2017 – possible construction start date.
48.5 km – length of trail when completed (17.8 km in Kelowna, 2.3 km in Okanagan Indian Band, 16.3 km in Lake Country, 12.1 km in Regional District of North Okanagan).
24 km - total distance of lakefront, creeks, including sensitive environmental and habitat areas.