Why the Okanagan Rail Trail is still not complete two years after official opening | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Why the Okanagan Rail Trail is still not complete two years after official opening

August 19, 2020 - 8:00 AM

Nearly two years after the Okanagan Rail Trail's grand opening was celebrated, sections of trail have yet to be completed.

Roughly $7.8 million was fundraised back in 2018 to complete a 50-kilometre cycling/walking trail stretching from Kelowna to Coldstream using old CN railbed. The grand opening of the rail trail was celebrated in 2018. 

READ MORE: Okanagan Rail Trail completes $7.8-million fundraising goal

Currently, there are two portions of trail where construction has not yet commenced north of the Kelowna International Airport before the Lake Country boundary.

One 2.3 km section, located on Okanagan Indian Band Reserve #7, is is still under the jurisdiction of the Canadian National Railway until an Additions to Reserve is completed transferring ownership to the OKIB, said Matt Vader, manager of communications and governmental affairs with the District of Lake Country.

This process has lasted for the last year.

“At this point we are optimistic that it is concluding in the near future but don't have a confirmed date,” he said via email.

The second section sitting at roughly 3.3 km, goes through the Eldorado Ranch. To meet the rail trail’s budget, the Okanagan Rail Trail Committee is looking at building the section within reserve land with approval from band council.

READ MORE: Agreement reached for Okanagan Rail Trail to go through Eldorado Ranch

This section is currently closed off until the other unfinished section is transferred to the OKIB. If the Eldorado Ranch section were to be built without the other property, it would just end in the middle of the property with no connection or access point, Vader said via email. 

“Collectively, the partners of the Okanagan Rail Trail have supported this process as best we can. The Okanagan Indian Band has and continues to be a respected and valued partner in the development of the Okanagan Rail Trail,” he said.

In Kelowna, the city will be adding a 300-metre section of trail connecting Manhattan Drive to Ellis Street and Sunset Drive starting next year which will allow cyclists to reach the waterfront, said Brian Beach, infrastructure delivery manager with the city. Currently, the city is in the process of putting together a grant application to fund it, he said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 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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