Okanagan Rail Corridor

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. 

Planning by the Inter-jurisdictional Development Team is underway to provide a dedicated connection between communities of the North Okanagan and to some of the most scenic features of the valley.

What's New?

The Okanagan Rail Corridor is an undeveloped recreational trail and is not currently routinely maintained. Many sections are now under active construction and will remain closed as we work to improve the trail. Please consult the Trail Construction Map for more information.

Please note that trail access between Duck Lake and the Airport is currently gated off from public use. These lands are currently in the process of being transferred to Okanagan Indian Band IR7 and are not yet open for public use.

A community-based fundraising campaign is underway to support the work required to design and build a continuous basic trail from Coldstream to Kelowna. 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.

Consultants and equipment will be travelling the entire corridor between Kelowna and Coldstream by foot or vehicle for investigative, planning and construction work. Temporary kilometer markers have been installed for design and construction use.

Learn more about the current construction and trail work in the most recent Trail Talk Newsletter.

Trail Talk Newsletter

Rails and FlowersRails

The Okanagan Rail Corridor inside the Kelowna municipal boundary is currently a closed and undeveloped trail that is not routinely maintained.

Since its establishment the Inter-Jurisdictional Development Team has retained the expertise and services of various local consulting firms to assist with the preparation of a Trail Development Plan and cost estimate for the trail. The Trail Development Plan identifies the vision, issues, assumptions, concept, development approach and estimated cost to develop a basic recreational trail along the route of the old railway, from Kelowna to Coldstream.

Read the Trail Development Plan

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

Inter-jurisdictional Development Team

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.

Read more about the Inter-jurisdictional 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. Representatives from each owner jurisdiction are participating as part of the Inter-jurisdictional Development Team to undertake initial planning and consultation for the development of a public recreational trail along the discontinued rail corridor.

Local interests are in:

  • Retaining integrity of the corridor
  • Opportunity for a regionally significant corridor with potential for multi-moda  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
Public input for Okanagan Rail Trail

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

Read more about engagement

In early October 2017, public information sessions were held with each owner jurisdiction to inform residents, adjacent property owners, and interested groups and individuals about the upcoming construction and anticipated timelines.

Input was gathered for the initial phase of trail development at public information sessions and through an online survey in Spring 2016. This information, together with feedback collected from the October 2017 process, will be retained for future reference, for use in any future planning and development of the trail corridor.

Residents were invited to review the concept and give their feedback at four information sessions along the corridor and staff was on hand to answer questions regarding the design and provide an opportunity for input.

The intention is to develop the corridor in phases, with the initial phase being construction of a gravel trail with road crossings, signage, and barriers to provide a basic level of safe and accessible use by pedestrians and cyclists.

Review the open house boards and trail maps by accessing the documents tab at the top of this page.
 

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.

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 B.C.

Read more about the purchase and acquisition

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.

Since the Okanagan Indian Band injunction application to reclaim reserve lands was denied by the B.C. Supreme Court 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.

Rail Land  

History

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.

Read more about the history

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.

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