Rail corridor acquisition looking likely in Lake Country as 'no-votes' fail to materialize | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Rail corridor acquisition looking likely in Lake Country as 'no-votes' fail to materialize

Opposition to the purchase of the CN Rail corridor does not seem to be materializaing.
January 22, 2015 - 1:48 PM

LAKE COUNTRY - The man spearheading Lake Country’s acquisition of the CN Rail corridor says he felt little opposition to the project at an open house he hosted last night for local residents.

“We were asked a lot of very good questions from a good cross section of people. There seemed to be more concern about how we're paying for it than the project itself,” said Michael Mercer, the District of Lake Country’s director of engineering, who estimated a turnout of about 60 at the municipal hall.

Lake Country is participating with Kelowna, Coldstream and Vernon in the shared purchase of the CN Rail corridor, which the company is decommissioning after sub-leasee Kelowna Pacific Railway went under last year.

CN Rail has agreed to sell the railroad right-of-way to the communities for $50 million, of which $28 million is in the form of a charitable donation tax receipt. The balance is split between the three communities based on the amount of land within their boundaries. Lake Country’s share is $5.1 million, half of which council plans to borrow given the approval of voters.

There was also some criticism of the alternative approval process itself, which requires 10 per cent of registered municipal voters to sign a counter petition opposing the project, but Mercer defended its use.

“I’m satisifed with the effort we made to engage the pubic,” he said. “We did a bulk mailout, advertised in newspapers, held these open houses, put it on our website. You can’t say we’re trying to hide it.”

Under process rules, a referendum on the acquisition requires 10 per cent of registered voters — 931 in Lake Country — to sign the counterpetition and submit it to the Lake Country municipal hall by noon on Monday, Feb. 23. Mercer said the district has thus far received 31 no counter petitions, including five submitted last night.

Mercer will host a second open house today in Oyama, the Lake Country ward most physically affected by the corridor acquisition. It runs from 3:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Oyama Community Hall, 15710 Oyama Rd.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infotelnews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2015

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