Okanagan Rail Trail group launch campaign to spruce up trailhead | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Okanagan Rail Trail group launch campaign to spruce up trailhead

Kilometre zero at the northern end of the Okangan Rail Trail in Coldstream, B.C., is seen in this photo taken, Sunday, April 5, 2020.
July 28, 2020 - 7:00 PM

The Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail have kick-started a fundraising campaign in an effort to create a gateway to the trailhead in Coldstream.

The non-profit volunteer group has launched its fundraising campaign with the idea to create a 'plaza' staging area including interpretive installations and public art, along with a hilltop lookout and native plant restoration and indigenous garden. The "signature northern gateway" will be developed at Kilometre Zero of the Okanagan Rail Trail.

"We did not expect a global pandemic when we prepared to fundraise for this site last spring," Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail chair Laurie Postill said in a media release. "Although plans were put on hold, these past few months have highlighted the importance of the rail trail to our community and the gratitude of trail users."

The Sunflower Campaign, named after the iconic spring wildflower often referred to as Okanagan Sunflowers, will have to match a grant given by the Regional District of North Okanagan and will also benefit from grants given by the Okanagan Basin Water Board and TD Friends of Environment Foundation.

The media release says the project will work closely with the Okanagan Indian Band, who call the area K’?k’maplqs or Little Head of the Lake, and which will be an active partner in discussions on how to develop and manage the route.

"K’?k’maplqs was important to our people for fishing, hunting, and harvesting, and remains of pit houses have been found in the vicinity," Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis said in the release. "The Okanagan Rail Trail was originally part of a larger interconnected network of trails utilized by our People to access all parts of Northern Syilx Territory to undertake essential sustenance, societal and spiritual activities."

"Given the increased use this year, it is obvious that the rail trail has a lot of community support. Regional District of North Okanagan also heard enthusiastic support for the Kilometre Zero Concept Plan at open houses last fall," Regional District manager of community services Mike Fox said in the release.

The Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail say they are taking a "modest approach" to fundraising given the challenges of COVID 19.

"Our target is to raise funds for the first phase of site development, starting with the ‘Okanagan Sunflowers’ and other native plants, and the Syilx stories," Postill said.

For more information on the Sunflower Campaign go here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer 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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