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Letter: Trade wheels for a bed of stone and steel
To the editor:
Re: This debate currently going on with the Vernon-Kelowna section of the old rail line, I must have a say.
It is estimated by some that it will take $10 million to retrofit the line for safety.
Sure, I imagine the line doesn’t turn a big profit either, certainly can’t foresee it as a commuter train line anytime soon.
What it does provide though, is a critical thread that joins communities, many that are now being isolated by new roadways way up the modern infrastructure ladder.
This scenic thread could morph into an economic and social artery if the political and tourism leaders resolve was engaged, all you need is a plan for that bed of stone and steel.
Generations of businesses will no doubt say this is has been a lifeblood for them conversely a nemesis for others for lots of different reasons—safety, threat of pollution in the lake, etc.
The bottom line always talks anyway.
How do we keep those economic wheels spinning on this ancient rail line all the while doing something for struggling rural areas en route.
Create a local tourism entity group that would provide the regional district with the option of a hand-over of the entire easement city to city for what should be one of the most iconic rail trails in the entire world.
It would rival the best trails around, like Costa Brava, Spain, and Queen Charlotte, New Zealand.
This wouldn’t compete with the KVR Trail but only compliment, enhancing the Okanagan as a destination for family friendly, active tourism.
The amazing section of the KVR from Naramata to Myra Belleview could be first of two days of a leisurely four -day (value adding) cycle to Vernon.
Tell me, where in the world does this opportunity of a rail bed easement just sitting primed for recreational use on a series of lakes exist?
With just a simple bicycle, and some hikers it would morph into a sustainable community asset, low maintenance infrastructure that would become an iconic “lake country trail,” provide an ongoing lifeblood for land owners and tourism businesses.
Studies worldwide have shown that rail trails can (if done correctly) provide a benefit for communities far beyond other recreational infrastructure and the bonus of being a healthy positive thing for connecting our communities for the future.