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No real opposition to rail corridor purchase: Lake Country mayor

CN has begun ripping out rail ties in areas of Kelowna.
January 21, 2015 - 6:01 PM

KELOWNA — Lake Country Mayor James Baker says he’s not aware of any organized resistance in his community to the proposal that the district borrow money to buy into the CN Rail corridor acquisition.

“There’s a few people who have been writing letters against it,” Baker said, just prior to the first open house the district is holding on the subject. “I guess if there’s going to be a groundswell of opposition, we will find out now.”

Lake Country is participating with Kelowna and Vernon in the shared purchase of the CN Rail corridor, which the company is decommissioning after sub-leasor Kelowna Pacific Railway went under last year.

CN Rail has agreed to sell the railroad right-of-way to the communities for $50 million, of which $28 million is in the form of a charitable donation tax receipt. The balance is split between the three communities based on the amount of land within their boundaries. Lake Country’s share is $5.1 million, half of which council hopes to borrow given the approval of voters.

Mayor Baker and Lake Country council voted to use the alternative approval process to decide on borrowing $2.5 million for the corridor purchase. Under the process rules, 10 per cent of registered municipal voters — just under 1,000 in the district — could trigger a referendum on the question if they disagree.

So eager is Kelowna to see a deal done, it has agreed to pick up half of Lake Country’s share of the property and hold it until the district can afford to pay for it.

The mayor said over a hundred counter-petitions were picked up at the district office and as of Jan 20, seven no replies had been returned.

“And that’s after a week. We’ve had people call the office to ask about getting a yes petition,” he added. “I know there is some opposition but I think most people see it as an investment in the shoreline of this community.”

The rail corridor within Lake Country skirts the east side of Wood Lake before crossing to the west side of Kalamalka Lake through Oyama leaving the much smaller community with a large proportion of the rail corridor.

A second open house will be held  from 3:30 - 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 22 in the Oyama Community Hall.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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