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Horses not allowed, dogs on-leash on Okanagan Rail Trail

Lake Country council is moving forward on barring horses and keeping dogs on their leashes

Horses won’t be trotting down the Lake Country portion of the Okanagan Rail Trail, despite some effort to get them there.

A bylaw amendment presented during a regular council meeting Tuesday night labels the rail trail as a dog walking park, but also points out that horses are not allowed on the trail.

Coun. Penny Gambell wasn’t in favour of the ban, noting that it “seems very draconian.”

There were previous discussions about allowing horses during certain times in the day and to certain areas, she said.

“I don’t see any area here where that’s been brought back or any legitimate discussion so I’m a little disappointed.”

Coun. Rob Geier disagreed with allowing horses on the trail, saying he sees a conflict with the number of pedestrians on the trail and horses.

“The trail is not that wide.”

Coun. Blair Ireland echoed Geier’s comments.

“We’ve heard a lot from local people who have horses who are begging us not to as well,” he said.

Two members of the community also expressed their concerns during the council meeting about barring horses and keeping dogs on leashes at all times while on the trail.

Matt Vader, manager of strategic and support services, said horses are not recommended on the trail because the animals’ droppings could carry invasive weed seeds.

The amendment aims to prevent conflicts between the agricultural properties along the trail and animals, he said.

Kelowna and the Regional District of the North Okanagan have similar regulations in place.

Coun. Gambell and Coun. Todd McKenzie rejected the proposal. Council agreed to give the amendments a first, second and third reading.

The rail trail is currently closed as construction continues. The district has recently expanded the parking lot behind the tennis courts at the trail’s location on Woodsdale Road, said Vader.

Along rail trail and Pelmewash Parkway, we’re looking at about 300 parking spots not including the isthmus, he said.

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