Letter: Chance for rail/trail ‘will never come our way again’

The spin offs to small businesses, artists, B&Bs, cycle shops, restaurants, (the list goes on) are substantial.

To the editor:

This September, four of us from the Okanagan travelled to Austria, specifically to cycle a 600 km route between Salzburg and Bratislava and back to Vienna.

The Austrian route, which is mainly along river areas, is much like we envision our Okanagan Rail Trail could become. It was one of the best trips we have ever taken and we highly recommend it for people of all ages.

Europe has done a magnificent job in making these bike trails a great tourist destination. Their trails meander through rural country and small towns, farmland and vineyards much like those in our area.

The spin offs to small businesses, artists, B&Bs, cycle shops, restaurants, (the list goes on) are substantial. We are so pleased that the District of Lake Country and the other municipalities have progressed this far in making the trail a reality.

We have told many people about our trip and the economic benefits the trail would bring to our area. You need to take a trip like we had to realize how much it means to the people we met in Austria. Bicycles are everywhere, the health benefits and pure enjoyment of it all are immense. None of us in the group that cycled Austria are young but we are active seniors and we expect to enjoy our local trail when it is completed.

Future generations will be happy we protected this area for them—it will benefit local businesses and provide much needed jobs for our community. The annual householder cost of about $27 per year, is one of the best investments we can make. We feel that is a very reasonable amount to acquire this large property, so let’s move ahead with this opportunity before it is lost forever.

For those of you who are interested in the economic spin off, we refer you to a study commissioned by the European Parliament in 2009 which found it extended the tourist season, took cyclists off the beaten track to support local small communities and generated 9.9 million Euros ($14 million) a year on the Austrian trail alone.

It also created 95 full time equivalent jobs in Austria.

Similar statistics were found in Quebec, Iowa, Oregon, Minnesota and many other areas. Google “Eurovelo Benefits” for details. Please join with us in support of this exceptional project.

Wayne & Diane Clement, Lake Country