Negotiations begin this week on future of piece of Okanagan Rail Trail - InfoNews

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Negotiations begin this week on future of piece of Okanagan Rail Trail

Image Credit: Tourism Kelowna
November 13, 2019 - 12:45 PM

A mediator will meet with three government bodies on Friday with the fate of the section of the Okanagan Rail Trail along Duck Lake one of the bargaining chips on the table.

The mediation session involves the City of Kelowna, District of Lake Country and the Okanagan Indian Band. Items on the table, along with the Rail Trail, include extending water and sewer services to Okanagan Indian Band land as well as adjustments to the convoluted boundary between Kelowna and Lake Country in the Beaver Lake Road area.

“If you look at the mapping up there, it includes some properties, excludes some properties and, in fact, cuts through the middle of one property,” James Kay, Kelowna’s development engineering manager told iNFOnews.ca today, Nov. 13. “The District of Lake Country, one of their priorities is to try to straighten that out. They’re trying to negotiate to change that boundary.”

Kelowna’s boundary extends north of Beaver Lake Road in some places, including a triangular-shaped portion west of McCarthy Road. The boundary was set when Kelowna amalgamated with Rutland, Glenmore and other parts of the valley in the 1970s.

There have been discussions on and off over the years about changing those boundaries. The most recent was about five years ago, Kay said.

“The Rail Trail committee has been meeting monthly since the Rail Trail was purchased,” Kay said. “Out of that, about six months ago, we decided that the groups at the table had other big picture items we needed to resolve. So we said, let’s get our committee together, let’s start talking about what negotiations could take place.”

Those discussions come to a head with a mediator on Friday, Nov. 15. It’s unlikely to be fully resolved at that time since Lake Country has some further studies to complete, Kay said.

He said the Okanagan Indian Band is fine with its current boundaries but is interested in servicing existing residential lands and future industrial lands. While, for example, Lake Country’s sewage treatment plant is not far away, there is unserviced land in between it and Reserve #7, whereas Kelowna’s sewer line has the capacity and could easily be extended.

“It is Lake Country saying, if we’re going to provide water to Kelowna and Kelowna is going to provide wastewater service to Lake Country and everybody is going to service (the Okanagan Indian Band) maybe we should deal with this boundary issue at the same time,” Kay said.

As for the Rail Trail, as he understands it, the federal government has agreed to turn over title to the land along the old CN Rail line to the band but that has yet to happen. Once it does, it will still be up to the band to decide whether it will allow public access along the line to connect the north and south portions of the trail.

This map shows the northern boundary of Kelowna reaching into Lake Country north of Beaver Lake Road, along with Okanagan Indian Band Reserve #7
This map shows the northern boundary of Kelowna reaching into Lake Country north of Beaver Lake Road, along with Okanagan Indian Band Reserve #7
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

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