One last piece of Okanagan Rail Trail 'nearing its final stage' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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One last piece of Okanagan Rail Trail 'nearing its final stage'

Image Credit: Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative
October 29, 2020 - 1:16 PM

The federal government has provided an update for the Okanagan Rail Trail, saying it’s nearing the final stages of a land transfer to the Okanagan Indian Band so the trail can finally be completed.

The Okanagan Rail Trail’s grand opening was celebrated back in 2018. The 50-kilometre former CN railbed was completed with one exception, a stretch of land that runs through the Okanagan Indian Band’s jurisdiction.

The 2.3 km section, located on Okanagan Indian Band Reserve 7, is still under the jurisdiction of the Canadian National Railway until an Additions to Reserve is completed transferring ownership to the OKIB. This process has lasted for the last four years, according to Kelowna-Lake Country MP Tracy Gray.

A 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.

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, said Matt Vader, manager of communications and governmental affairs with the District of Lake Country, in a previous interview with iNFOnews.

After writing to Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and receiving no response regarding the land transfer, Gray raised the issue back in September to Miller during a House of Commons session, she said via email.

When she wasn't provided an update, Gray reached out again.

“While there is no definite timeline as to when the Addition to Reserve will be completed, regional officials in British Columbia have confirmed the Addition to Reserve process is nearing its final stage as the Okanagan Indian Band works to satisfy certain Addition to Reserve process requirements,” Minister Miller wrote in an email to Gray.

Gray is also bringing up the issue again today, Oct. 28 in the House of Commons.

According to the federal government, Access to Land Reserves take an average of five to seven years to complete.

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


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