North Okanagan voters asked to borrow more than $2M for rail trail | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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North Okanagan voters asked to borrow more than $2M for rail trail

FILE PHOTO: Decommissioned railway tracks between Armstrong and Sicamous.

NORTH OKANAGAN - North Okanagan residents will be asked to borrow more than $2 million to finalize the purchase of the rail corridor between Armstrong and Sicamous.

The railway, which shut down in 2009, measures roughly 50 kilometres and runs through the communities of Armstrong, Enderby, Grindrod and Sicamous. Last month, the provincial government announced $2.17 million to buy the tract of land from Canadian Pacific.

But that will only cover one third of the cost, according to a media release issued today from the North Okanagan Regional District.

The total price tag is $6.5 million, leaving the North Okanagan Regional District and Columbia Shuswap Regional District to split the remaining cost 50-50, each paying $2.17 million.

Both regional districts are proposing to fund their contributions through borrowing. That will involve an alternate approval process, meaning the money will be borrowed unless 10 per cent of voters state they do not support it. More voting information is expected to be available in May. 

A conditional purchase and sale contract has been made, subject to legal and environmental examination of the property and the creation of bylaws necessary to buy and operate the property.

In the media release, North Okanagan Regional District board chair Bob Fleming says he is cautiously optimistic.

“We have achieved two of the key steps toward this potential purchase, being the successful contract negotiation with Canadian Pacific, and the required one-third funding contribution from a senior level of government,” Fleming says.

The Splatsin First Nation has already acquired about 7 km of the railway.

“In partnership with Splatsin and their segments of rail corridor, this proposed land acquisition is intended to ensure public ownership of a key linear corridor that could be used for recreational opportunities, including walking and cycling, while retaining it for future transportation and economic development needs,” the regional district says in the release.

There is also long-term potential to connect the corridor with the Okanagan Rail Trail between Kelowna and Coldstream. 

For its share, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is proposing to fund $1,838,384 from borrowing, with the remaining portions coming from the Sicamous/Area E Economic Opportunity Fund ($250,000), and a the Revelstoke/Area B Economic Opportunity Fund ($100,000).

The North Okanagan Regional District is proposing to borrow the full portion of their contribution. Repayment of the loan is proposed over twenty years, with the estimated total annual payment sitting at $159,000 a year.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 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.

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News from © iNFOnews, 2017

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