WATCH: Okanagan rail bid unaffected by First Nation claim
KELOWNA, B.C. – The City of Kelowna is leading a bid to CN Rail for several communities that host the abandoned rail line between Kelowna and Vernon to buy the line.
“Assuming the transit authority doesn’t offer then our referrals period is September 5th to October 6th,” says Doug Gilchrist, Division Director of Community Planning and Real Estate at the City of Kelowna. “We have 30 days to submit an offer or response to their offer to sell.”
An inter-jurisdictional acquisition team is being lead by Gilchrist who told Global Okanagan news they were working with the Okanagan Indian Band who is laying claim to several kilometres of the track in Vernon’s Commonage area.
“We have a great relationship with them and they’re more than willing to work with us,” says Gilchrist.
But late Thursday, the chief of the Okanagan Indian band expressed surprise they had to learn about the organized bid through the media.
I’m “a little surprised and would have welcomed a heads-up that this was in the works,” says Byron Louis. “It isn’t a done deal just because bid is in the works.”
While the Federal Government will be dealing with 2.5 km’s of the track that runs through the Okanagan Indian Band reserve on Duck Lake in Kelowna, Gilchrist says they are taking direction to move ahead on the bid from CN.
“Our understanding is that CN believes they have legal rights to dispose of the lands and we’re acting on that,” says Gilchrist.
CN is asking $50 million for the 49.5 km of track between Kelowna and Vernon.
The bid must be submitted by October 6th.