Feds and CN Rail still holding up completion of Okanagan Rail Trail

No date to finish rail trail

It's been more than five years since central and north Okanagan governments purchased nearly 50 kilometres of rail line abandoned by CN Rail.

But, while the ribbon was officially cut on the Okanagan Rail Trail in September of 2018, they are still no closer to completely connecting the 49.5 kilometres trail linking downtown Kelowna in the south and Coldstream in the north.

The holdup remains an Addition to Reserve application which involves a portion of the trail through Duck Lake IR#7.

That process, between the federal government and CN Rail, has been ongoing since 2018.

The ATR process would see that section of the trail, which was taken from the Okanagan Indian Band by CN when it pushed the rail line through in the early 1900s, returned to the band.

Okanagan Rail Trail committee chair Matt Vader says that portion of the trail, 2.3 kilometres in length, will remain under the jurisdiction of CN Rail until such time at the ATR is complete.

It had been hoped the ATR would have been complete by the end of 2019. Now, Vader says, while there is no confirmed date for its completion, the committee is optimistic it will be concluded "in the near future."

Completion of the ATR is also holding up construction of a 4.1 kilometre portion of the trail which connects with IR7 to the south.

Vader says that portion of the trail has been successfully removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve, but they are awaiting completion of the ATR before moving forward.

"To meet our budget that has been fundraised we are looking at building the section within the Reserve, with approval of use by Band Council, in conjunction with this section for budget efficiencies to ensure we can deliver the whole project on budget," Vader says in an email to Castanet.

He says the portion of the trail removed from the ALR simply ends in the middle of the property with no available connection to another access point."

"Building it out of sequence to any future use on the Reserve section would not provide the connection to Lake Country and RDNO as desired."

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