Rail Trail guaranteed to run through OKIB lands with historic new agreement | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

Rail Trail guaranteed to run through OKIB lands with historic new agreement

Image Credit: From Tourism Kelowna web page.

An agreement between three local governments will ensure that the Okanagan Rail Trail will be able to run through Okanagan Indian Band lands along Duck Lake.

Up until now, the Rail Trail, which opened in 2018, has not been built through band lands because the federal government has yet to transfer title. The expectation had been, once the transfer was made, the band would still have to decide whether to make that section publicly accessible.

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

A new memorandum of understanding guarantees that will happen but there’s still no word on when the transfer will be made. Until then, the section from Duck Lake to Old Vernon Road next to Kelowna Airport is also inaccessible.

The memorandum between the band, Lake Country and Kelowna, announced today, Feb. 8, focuses on road, sewer and water rights.

The Okanagan Indian Band Reserve #7 lands are next to the industrial north end of Kelowna that interject into Lake Country's industrial area. Water and sewer service to the area have been difficult to sort out over the years.

READ MORE: Housing not only hot commodity in Kelowna’s real estate market

Under the agreement, Kelowna will supply sewer services to the area and have its sewer right of way through band lands protected.

“Improvements to water and wastewater on IR#7 will ensure a safe water supply and reduce septic pollution while road improvements will increase safety and pave the way for economic development opportunities,” Byron Louis, Chief of the Okanagan Band, said in a news release.

One of the main goals is to connect Commonwealth Road between Highway 97 and Jim Bailey Road and the three jurisdictions will work together to upgrade Beaver Lake Road to an arterial standard from Highway 97 to Jim Bailey Road.

Formal legal agreements will be signed over the coming months.

“While the details will take time to flesh out for each of the various agreements, there will be significant safety and economic benefits for each community,” Lake Country Mayor James Baker said in the news release.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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