Controversial stretch of North Okanagan – Shuswap rail trail will go to public hearing

A section of a proposed 50-kilometre rail trail in the North Okanagan and Shuswap that would span the communities of Sicamous, Grindrod, Enderby, Spallumcheen and Armstrong. Submitted

A Southern Interior rail trail project heralded for connecting the Shuswap to the North Okanagan is moving ahead, with one key part missing.

Shuswap-North Okanagan Rail Trail will start this year and for 49 kilometres it will create a connection from the Sicamous to Armstrong.

But as has been the case with every rail trail, some administrative work needs to be done, and rezoning is a standard part of the effort.

The District of Sicamous, however, put off re-zoning a one-kilometre stretch of the route on the west side of Mara Lake from its current designation of residential to parkland, due to concerns raised by about two dozen property owners over so-called crossing agreements.

The residents there say that if the trail is built, they’ll have to cross it to get to their private docks. But the public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the issue.

Story continues below advertisement

“Our next step is to bring this back to public hearing,”  Sicamous Mayor Colleen Anderson said, adding that she believes the rail trail project will be beneficial to all communities for biking, hiking and tourism.

Anderson said council has a couple of delegations coming in that will make a business case for the route.

Click to play video: 'Survey assesses transit options for Okanagan Rail Trail'
Survey assesses transit options for Okanagan Rail Trail

“So yeah, we’re just gonna wait and see what the community has to say before we make any more decisions moving forward,” she said.

If re-zoning is approved, the completed rail trail will be over 50 kilometres long between Armstrong and Sicamous, starting at Shuswap Lake. But the project has to wait until work at the R.W. Bruhn Bridge, where Highway 1 crosses the Sicamous Narrows between Shuswap and Mara Lakes, is complete.

The province is planning to widen a stretch of the highway, including the bridge, to four lanes.

Story continues below advertisement

The project is in the final design stage. Utilities are currently being relocated but construction will not go to tender until later this year.

The Splatsin Development Corp., which completed a test section of the Rail Trail on two kilometres near Enderby last year, is finalizing plans to start work on much of the 50-kilometre trail this year.



Sponsored content