PENTICTON - At first, it didn't appear to be anyone's first choice, but the three locals governments looking for a trail connection between Summerland and Penticton are taking a closer look at funding a study to examine the feasibility of a pathway running alongside Highway 97.
Penticton council will get an opportunity to commit to the study this evening, April 4, as staff present a recommendation the City of Penticton contribute $13,333 as the city’s share for the study, to be shared equally between Penticton, Summerland and the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen.
City council tabled a request for participation in the study by the Ministry of Transportation at the January 18 council meeting, seeking more information on the concept of the plan in addition to getting clarification on the city’s financial commitment.
The following week, the regional district board also tabled a staff recommendation to take a partnership position in the study. Several directors expressed their disapproval of the route at the time, preferring a corridor be developed on the former Kettle Valley rail bed instead.
On March 29, Summerland approved its share of $13,333 towards the study, which is anticipated to cost $120,000. Two thirds of that amount is being paid for by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, who on March 18 proposed the three local partners commit to a cap of $40,000, with the ministry paying the remainder.
Penticton would source the money from general capital reserves.
Staff believe the study would give the city an overview of the plans, costs and funding scenarios from which an informed decision could be made as to whether a highway route is feasible.
Should council vote in favour of the recommendation, the regional district would still need to approve their participation in order for the study to move ahead.
Regional district Chief Administrative Officer Bill Newell says he believes the regional district would be interested in participating, should Summerland and Penticton see fit to share in the cost of the study,
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