Okanagan Rail Trail success creating traffic headaches
The popularity of the Okanagan Rail Trail is creating safety concerns for some north Okanagan residents who live near the path.
The issue is that trail users often park along a residential street near a popular Coldstream entry point on the trail.
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It is creating a situation where the residential streets in the area of Kick Willie Loop Road and Westkal Road are full of rail trail users and their kids, bikes and pets.
Some residents believe the parking arrangement is a traffic accident waiting to happen.
“On any given weekend day it is really, really dangerous to even just access our home and kind of move through all the traffic and all the people,” resident Jessie Bicknell said.
Bicknell emphasized that she is generally excited to have the rail trail in her community but believes the parking arrangements for the trail need to be changed.
“It has to be addressed because, I think, ultimately it is probably going to end in disaster at some point,” Bicknell said.
“I think everyone is really excited about the rail trail. We would never want to take away from that but everyone that is living it every day knows that it doesn’t actually look so good.”
The area has become congested enough that the Regional District of North Okanagan put out a media release urging tour buses to drop their patrons off at a parking lot about 1.5 km from the Kick Willie Loop Road area where people are parking now or to access a different part of the trail farther south.
The regional district is suggesting Kekuli Bay Provincial Park is a better bet for large groups, as the district said the parking lot there is designed for large group dropoffs.
It also appears more alternative parking is on its way.
The District of Coldstream is currently collecting feedback on plans to build a public information booth, washrooms and a large parking lot on Kalamalka Road to service the rail trail.
There are a variety of different plans being put forward that would see anywhere between 91 and 111 parking spaces built.
The district is thinking of calling the new development Coldstream Station, Coldstream Rail Gateway or Coldstream Junction.
Progress on that proposal likely can’t come soon enough for Westkal Road residents concerned about their street becoming a rail trail parking lot.
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