Rail trail focus of talks

Officials from Lake Country, Kelowna and the Regional District of North Okanagan will meet Thursday

The future of a rail corridor is still uncertain.

The acquisition team representing Lake Country, Kelowna and the Regional District of North Okanagan will meet Thursday to discuss options moving forward with an attempted purchase of the CN Rail corridor,

More than 10 per cent of Lake Country residents voted down the district’s attempts to borrow $2.6 million in a failed alternative approval process that has sent the partners back to the drawing board in attempting to secure financing for the deal, by a March 31 deadline.

“A referendum is our only option,” said Lake Country Mayor James Baker.

“The big issue is to protect the corridor and keep it public but this is also an investment for Lake Country.”

One option that has been suggested is the City of Kelowna purchasing the corridor in Lake Country.

“Even if Kelowna did agree to buy it all, that’s not a very good investment for Lake Country and for what we can do on the trail in the future,” said Baker.

“If it all belongs to Kelowna then we are dealing with the same of kind of thing we have in the south end.”

Baker was alluding to an area of Lake Country that remains inside City of Kelowna boundaries where talks have been ongoing in the past to try and re-acquire those lands, home to some industrial operations that pay taxes to Kelowna, but who operate in the heart of Winfield.

The main stumbling block in the district’s attempt to hold a referendum is the closing date on the deal of March 31.

Initially the referendum wasn’t held because it couldn’t get done before March 31 but plans have been put in place to move forward with a referendum if CN Rail allows an extension.

A possible referendum date in Lake Country is May 9.

Baker says judging by public support , he believes the referendum question would not only pass but the voter turnout would be very high.

“We’ve had huge support for people wanting to buy it so a lot of people will get out to vote,” he said.

 

Vernon Morning Star

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