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Kelowna News

Rail trail group itching to get going on CN corridor

The Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative would like to see the former CN Rail corridor open by July 1, 2017.


OKANAGAN - They’ve got a construction plan, some donation pledges and hope to raise a million dollars this fall. They even have a possible opening date.

Now all that has to happen for the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative to go roaring ahead is the settlement of a few legal matters and for CN Rail to begin its track removal and remediation plan along the former rail corridor.

“We’ve been talking with CN Rail about their plans to remove the tracks and how we can combine construction if the equipment is already going to be there,” Brad Clements says.

The spokesman for the non-profit society says CN has also agreed to letting some trail construction work go ahead in areas that require less remediation work.

“They have said most of the environmental work is concentrated in certain sections so we can start building in some areas while there doing their remediation in others. They are open to that.”

Clements says the society has committed to raising $5 million of the estimated $10 million price tag for the 49.5-kilometre trail with hopes it will be matched by grants from other levels of government. They estimate construction costs of $180 to $260 per metre of trail, which will be four metres wide and sloped for drainage.

Plans are for the commuter-oriented and busier Kelowna-Lake Country section to be paved while the more tourist-oriented Oyama to Vernon section will be constructed of solidified crushed aggregate.

Would-be donors have already made verbal committments and the fundraising program is setting an initial target of $1 million this fall, Clements says. Both the Central and North Okanagan foundations have agreed to hold all the money raised in trust.

With so much still unresolved, Clements says an exact opening date is far from certain.

“If all the communities came together and we as individuals came together to raise $5 million in one year, we believe we could have something open for July 1, 2017, Canada’s 150th birthday.”

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

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