Yes side claims resounding victory in rail trail referendum | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

Yes side claims resounding victory in rail trail referendum

Lake Country voters gave a big thumbs up to CN Rail corridor purchase.

LAKE COUNTRY - With a voter turnout that puts other elections to shame, about 75 per cent Lake Country voters showed their support for the CN Rail corridor purchase with a resounding yes vote.

In a media release from the district, chief election officer Reyna Seabrook says 4,4462 or 47.9 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, with 3,336 agreeing to the district borrowing $2.6-million to complete the purchase of the rail corridor.

Official results will be declared at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 27, and a special district council meeting will be held at 5 p.m. to adopt the loan bylaw.

If there’s some urgency, it’s because the entire CN Rail corridor purchase is supposed to close June 1.  Lake Country is hoping to participate with Kelowna, and Coldstream as well as the North and Central Okanagan regional districts, in the shared purchase of the CN Rail corridor running from Kelowna to Coldstream, decommissioned last year after sub-leasee Kelowna Pacific Railway went under.

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, but Kelowna is paying for the other half, allowing the district to pay it back over an unspecified time period.

The yes vote removes the biggest obstacle yet to the completion of the CN Rail corridor purchase. Without Lake Country’s participation, a key $7.2-million contribution from the province would have been withdrawn.

As it is, the remaining obstacles include claims on small portions of the corridor by two private land owners who have an agreement with CN Rail concerning right-of-first-refusal.

The Okanangan Indian Band has also laid claim to a portion of the rail corridor through the Commonage reserve and is seeking to have the deal stopped through a court injunction.

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

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