September 21, 2018 5:20 pm
Updated: September 21, 2018 5:30 pm

Grand opening finally set for Okanagan Rail Trail

The Okanagan Rail Trail will hold its grand opening on September 27th.

Global News
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The idea was magnificent: Repurpose old train tracks for public use.

Next Thursday, the Okanagan Rail Trail, four years in the making, will come to life, with dignitaries across the Valley gathering for the much-awaited grand opening. The celebration will take place on September 27th, 11 a.m., at the Oyama boat launch on Wood Lake Road in Lake Country.

The Okanagan Rail Trail will span 49.5 kilometres in length, from Kelowna’s downtown core to Coldstream. And that’s just phase one, with more phases to come.

READ MORE: Okanagan Rail Trail goal has been met

“This trail is a valuable connection between the Central Okanagan and North Okanagan, and offers residents and visitors an alternative mode of transportation between our communities,” said Kelowna mayor Colin Basran. “In Kelowna, it connects neighbourhoods, town centres, the university, the airport and many recreational amenities in the city – helping to link people from their home to where they work and play.”

“In addition to supporting healthy, intergenerational activities and connecting communities, we are confident the Okanagan Rail Trail will become a magnificent tourism amenity adding to the local economy,” said Lake Country mayor James Baker.

“The Okanagan Rail Trail offers opportunities for all who use it to learn about the Syilx (Okanagan) people, our territory and part of the rich history of the Okanagan Valley,” said Okanagan Indian Band chief Byron Louis.

WATCH BELOW: A donation of $1.45 million was made earlier this year to help finish the Okanagan Rail Trail.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, attendees will take a celebratory trip along the trail to Woodsdale Road, a trip of approximately 6.5 kilometres.

With more than 24 km of the trail following creeks, lakeshore and unique natural environments, it should become a signature amenity, one that attracts international travelers, contributes to the economy and increases job opportunities.

While majority of the trail is open, the access between the Kelowna International Airport and Duck Lake is not yet open for public use. These lands are being reviewed through the federal reserve process and Agricultural Land Commission. It’s asked that trail users respect this closure.

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Rail trail organizers said $7.8 million was raised through the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative, while the federal government provided nearly $1.4 million through the New Building Canada Fund and $471,500 from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. The trail also received nearly $1.3 million from Government of British Columbia through BikeBC and the Rural Dividend Fund.

According to the City of Kelowna, the original asking price of the corridor was $50 million, but the negotiated cost of the corridor turned out to be a combination of $22 million in monetary consideration and land donation.

Purchase of the discontinued rail line was finalized on June 1, 2015 by the City of Kelowna, the District of Lake Country, the Regional District of North Okanagan and the Province of B.C.

 

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