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Okanagan Rail Corridor

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The Okanagan Rail Corridor inside the Kelowna municipal boundary is currently a closed and undeveloped trail that is not routinely maintained. Active construction and remediation is occurring in some areas and should be avoided.

No hiking. No cycling. No parking or motorized vehicles. No camping or campfires.

No dogs, equestrians or trespassing is allowed. Littering is prohibited. Wildlife, including black bears, grizzly bears, deer and cougars may be present and aggressive.

Once the trail is ready to open each community’s council will consider permitted use and trail designation. 

Background

Local governments and the Province of B.C. have invested $22 million in the purchase of the discontinued CN railway running from Coldstream to Kelowna. In doing so they have made a long-term commitment to securing the rail corridor as a multi-modal regional transportation corridor, including use of the corridor as a recreational trail. 

Due to the significant investment to purchase the corridor, and in light of other pre-existing community priorities, local governments are not in a position to make any significant financial commitment to development of a trail in the short-term. 

A community-based fundraising campaign is underway to support the work required to design and build a continuous basic trail from Coldstream to Kelowna. Find out more at http://okanaganrailtrail.ca.

Public Input for Okanagan Rail Trail

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Input was gathered for the initial phase of trail development at public information sessions and through an online survey in Spring 2016. Additional feedback collected from the engagement process has been retained for future reference, for use in future planning and development of the trail corridor. 

Review the open house boards and trail maps here:

Background and Concept Cross Sections
Corridor Overview Map
Corridor Maps, sections

Fact Sheet

The intention is to establish a continuous compacted trail along the corridor with road crossings, signage, and barriers to provide a basic level of safe and accessible use by pedestrians and cyclists.

Development of the trail has been broken into four phases, triggered as funding becomes available: 1) Design and access control, 2) Environmental and Rock scaling, 3) Intersection control and 4) Construction and completion.

Like other municipal projects, as the design moves into detailed design additional costing, construction staging and schedule information will become available and adjacent property owners and affected stakeholders will be further engaged at that time.

Inter-jurisdictional Development Team

The municipalities of Lake Country, Kelowna and Okanagan Indian Band as well as Regional District of North Okanagan jointly identified the value the rail line could have as a continuous multi-modal transportation corridor connecting all the communities.

The Inter-jurisdictional Team is acting as a common voice for local governments to work collaboratively in achieving common goals for the mutual benefit of the valley's residents.

Local interests are in:

    - Retaining integrity of the corridor
    - Opportunity for a regionally significant corridor with potential for multi-modal
      transportation benefits and a trail component 
    - Address property maintenance, beautification and road crossing arrangements
    - Working with granting agencies and the regional fundraising community to fund 
      trail development

Purchase and acquisition

Local governments made every effort to minimize the tax impact in the interest of securing a land asset that would be valued for generations.

       
 City of Kelowna     $7.6  
 Regional District of the North Okanagan     $1.9  
 District of Lake Country      
         Borrowing     $2.6
         City of Kelowna Investment     $2.6  
 Province of B.C.     $7.2  
 Total    $21.9  

While the original asking price of the corridor was $50 million, the negotiated cost of the corridor is a combination of $22 million in monetary consideration and land donation. 

Purchase of the discontinued rail line was finalized on June 1, 2015 by the City of Kelowna, the District of Lake Country, the Regional District of North Okanagan and the Province of BC.

The City of Kelowna funded its estimated share of $7.6 million from reserves with no additional tax increase to residents. Because the value of the land is more than the monetary consideration, the City of Kelowna will also issue a charitable donation receipt to CN for the difference.

The Regional District of the North Okanagan funded its estimated share of $1.9 million from reserves with no increase to taxes.

The District of Lake Country borrowed up to $2.6 million to fund the 50 per cent purchase of the corridor within its jurisdiction. Given the regional benefits of public ownership, the City of Kelowna agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with the District of Lake Country that sees Kelowna acquire a 50 per cent interest in the land within Lake Country boundaries.

The Province of B.C. committed $7.2 million towards the purchase amount.

Okanagan Indian Band

Since the injunction application to reclaim reserve lands was denied by the B.C. Supreme Court Justice Meyers on June 1, 2015 the Okanagan Indian Band has joined the Inter-jurisdictional Development team as an owner jurisdiction.

Approximately 2.5 km of the rail corridor running from Coldstream to Kelowna lies within the boundary of the Duck Lake Indian Reserve No. 7.

History

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The CN Rail line was constructed to bring the produce and lumber of the Okanagan Valley to markets across the country. Operated by Kelowna Pacific Railway the line served the communities of Campbell Creek, Kamloops, Vernon, Coldstream, Lake Country, Okanagan Indian Band and Kelowna. Challenged with high costs and low revenues, Kelowna Pacific Railway entered receivership and ceased rail service in July 2013.

After reaching trustee, customer and labour agreements CN resumed operations on approximately 156 kilometres, or about 75 per cent, of the former Kelowna Pacific Railway network running from Campbell Creek B.C. to Lumby Junction.

In September 2013 CN Rail began the formal process of discontinuing the rail line running from Lumby Junction in Coldstream to Kelowna.


Contact:

Andrew Gibbs
Project Manager
250-469-8836
 

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