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I am strongly in favour of using our tax dollars to purchase the old CN line between Vernon and Kelowna to preserve it as a trail corridor. Every single person I have spoken to on this topic is also in favour. I have yet to hear one person say that it should be left for private development, which is the alternative to our government purchasing it. This is a one-time opportunity that we can't let slip by.
While I was encouraged to read the positive comments by our federal and provincial representatives, I also found some comments dismaying.
These include: Colin Mayes: "It would be unwise for the federal government to do this on its own because it would set a precedent."
In fact, this is exactly the sort of precedent we need, to ensure our communities stay vibrant, livable and free of rampant development. The public actually wants this precedent: it would be unwise to let this opportunity lapse by quibbling over precedents.
Colin Mayes: "There is work being done to get (the 30-day deadline) extended so we can get everyone together and consider alternatives."
We do not need to consider alternatives. The alternative is that this opportunity will be lost forever, and the rail will fall into the hands of private developers. This is not what the public wants.
"We've had some preliminary discussions at all levels: First Nations, federal, provincial and municipal."
Great! But preliminary discussions are not enough. We need commitment, and we need it soon. I call on all levels of government to make a dedicated effort to committing sufficient funds to purchase the railway for public use.
As public representatives, our MPs, MLAs and mayors can create a lasting legacy by acting now to preserve the rail line for public use. I also encourage every interested citizen to sign your support for this initiative at http://okanaganrailtrail.ca/. Please also write letters of support to your federal, provincial and municipal representatives.
Ward Strong, Vernon