March 8, 2019 7:17 pm
Updated: March 8, 2019 9:51 pm

Okanagan Rail Trail clears ranch hurdle

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The Okanagan Rail Trail has cleared a major hurdle.

Although the trail is officially open, there’s a gate blocking passage where the trail meets the Eldorado Ranch near Kelowna International Airport.

The ranch is owned by the Bennett family, which had some concerns about trespassing, vandalism and employee safety.

The City of Kelowna says it has reached an agreement with the Bennetts.

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READ MORE: Section of Okanagan Rail Trail a no-go, says ALC

“The city owns the land, but it’s ALR designated,” said Andrew Gibbs from the City of Kelowna.

“What the proposal is and agreed to is we’ll put up some fencing, give them access across the Rail Trail, take care of some signage advising people that you’re in a farm area.”

Gibbs says the city will submit the agreement to the Agricultural Land Commission for approval.

He says taxpayers will not be on the hook for the additional fencing and signage.

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“I don’t have estimate on the fencing yet,” said Gibbs.

“We still have money left in our budget from the original fundraising that has been held aside for this work, and that hasn’t been spent yet, so we’ll draw on that to do the fencing.”

Mayor Colin Basran says he’s relieved to hear that a deal has been struck.

“It’s great to see a solution has been worked out for access through the Eldorado property,” said Basran.

“That’s a credit to the property owners and the city staff who kept talking and working through the options, and to the Agricultural Land Commission for its role in helping to identify the issues and possible solutions.”

READ MORE: Majority of Okanagan Rail Trail officially opens, but portion still not ready

Despite the good news, there’s still one more hurdle and that deals with land just north of the Eldorado Ranch — on the Okanagan Indian Band Reserve.

The band says it’s still waiting for CN to transfer the old rail line back to the crown. After that, the band says the crown will transfer the land back to the band.

The band says these types of processes can take years, but adds that the whole process has been fast tracked and it could happen within a matter of months.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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