WATCH: Okanagan Indian Band lays claim to part of railway corridor
VERNON – The old Kelowna Pacific Railway track is no longer in operation between the Lumby Junction and Kelowna after the company went into receivership.
What will become of the old rail corridor remains unclear.
The Okanagan Indian Band says they have a claim to some of the land as a significant portion of the rail line falls within their commonage reserve.
The band says they’ve sent a letter to the federal transport minister calling on Ottawa to buy the defunct rail line between Kelowna and Vernon.
Chief Byron Louis says the federal government could also re-start negotiations with the band to settle their commonage claim.
“The end result would be….control over the land and if not then it has got to be negotiated through settlement with us on the commonage reserve,” says Louis.
The first nation is not the only group with ideas about what should happen to the closed rail line.
The Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative hoping the land can be turned into a trail linking Vernon and Kelowna
Member Brad Clements says the rail corridor is the groups preferred option for a trail but he sees possibilities for other routes connecting the two cities.
“One way or another I’m sure we can figure it out whether it’s using pieces of this land and other land or something. I know there is a huge appetite now with this vision of connecting the communities through a community path,” says Clements.
If part of the rail corridor became band land Louis says band members would need to discuss what they’d like to see done.
“What’s the highest and best use?” says Louis, “It is just like any other level of government we have to make that determination.”