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Way paved for completion of Okanagan Rail Trail

FILE. Okanagan Rail Trail. Global News

The final link to the Okanagan’s recreational corridor could soon be ready for completion.

The land needed to complete the Okanagan Rail Trail is expected to be made available in the months ahead following the District of Lake Country, the City of Kelowna, and the Okanagan Indian Band hammering out an agreement to address a number of projects that required a collaborative approach. Each is signing on to a Memorandum of Understanding that they will work to get the mutually beneficial projects completed.

“The result of many months, if not years, of frank discussions and open negotiations is this Memorandum of Understanding that sets the stage for specific agreements between each of the three parties on various services, boundary adjustments, and infrastructure improvements,” Lake Country Mayor James Baker said in a press release.

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“While the details will take time to flesh out for each of the various agreements, there will be significant safety and economic benefits for each community. Working together will also amplify our voice inspiring collaboration and participation from the provincial and federal governments on these important infrastructure projects.”

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Over the coming months, the parties will formalize legal agreements to address responsibilities and funding for the various works.

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The issues being addressed for the OKIB will see the opportunity for water and sewer services to existing properties and availability of servicing for future developments, road access to a parcel of land on the east side of Duck Lake, and an Addition to Reserve for the Okanagan Rail Trail corridor.

Lake Country has negotiated to have focus turned toward Commonwealth Road opened as arterial access to Jim Bailey Road from Highway 97 to address capacity issues on Beaver Lake Road.

The City of Kelowna will lead the process and engage with MOTI to improve this road within the area to handle truck and car traffic. Extensive public consultation with businesses and residents in the area will be coordinated by the City of Kelowna.

The district also worked toward the completion of the Okanagan Rail Trail, a secure interim sewer servicing from the City of Kelowna, a dedication of a road right-of-way north from Beaver Lake Road to the Clearwater/Copperhill subdivision, and a minor boundary adjustment.

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The City of Kelowna wants to see completion of the development of the Okanagan Rail Trail, protection of the city’s main sewer line within the rail trail right-of-way through the IR#7, full access for the industrial lands via Commonwealth Road and water supply from Lake Country for the entire neighbourhood.

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The three jurisdictions agree to work together to upgrade Beaver Lake Road to an arterial standard from Highway 97 to Jim Bailey Road.

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“We are pleased to have agreed on a path forward with the City of Kelowna and the District of Lake Country on several long-standing issues,” said Byron Louis, Chief of the Okanagan Indian Band.

“Improvements to water and wastewater on IR#7 will ensure a safe water supply and reduce septic pollution while road improvements will increase safety and pave the way for economic development opportunities. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to accomplish the road improvements.”

Louis, Baker and Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran will take part in a ceremonial signing event in the near future.

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“This is a historic agreement that can provide so many improvements to not only the residents and businesses in this area but have positive cultural and economic spin-offs for the entire region,” said Basran.

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“The projects touch on everything from reconciliation with our Indigenous friends and neighbours, health, safety, environmental protection and active living — all longstanding priorities for the City of Kelowna.”

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