A former Lake Country councillor says she can see both sides of the CN rail corridor issue but adds she has real concerns about the possible acquisition of the corridor in Lake Country.
Barbara Leamont, who stepped away from Lake Country council and did not run in the 2014 elections after 12 years on council, says people need to have more information to make an informed decision in the April 25 referendum.
“Whether you are for it or not I think for me it’s having factual information that people can actually sink their teeth into and look at and it’s not there,” said Leamont, who represented the Carr’s Landing ward in her years on council. “It’s not just the rail corridor people are looking at. They are looking at the big picture. There are so many things coming forward with increases in sewer fees, water rates, the transportation plan. It’s the unknown that has people concerned.”
Leamont is among a growing number of people speaking out about the April 25 referendum on both sides of the equation. As the yes campaign ramps up with an office and a phone campaign, more residents are raising concern about what the future holds if residents approve a borrowing bylaw for $2.6 million.
Last week it was reported that two properties in Oyama have the right of first refusal to purchase the corridor that runs through their property. The district responded by saying if the residents do purchase the trail, those specific portions wouldn’t be included in the final purchase price and the district could then negotiate to buy the rail corridor from those individuals.
Many of the concerns about the trail are coming from Oyama where the CN corridor travels close to property lines along the east side of Wood Lake.
“The people in Oyama along the corridor are most heavily affected and I can appreciate the issues they have with the rail corridor becoming public,” said Oyama ward Coun. Owen Dickie. “Some of the properties are quite literally within feet of the rail corridor. There are concerns with vandalism, trespassing and a lack of peace and quiet. I would anticipate we would work as closely as we can with the property owners (if the corridor is purchased). It’s unfortunate their lifestyle could change but that’s part of what is happening through the Okanagan Valley. It is changing and it has been for a great number of years.”
For Leamont, she says the district should follow what it has been preaching for years about getting more community involvement in decision making.
“The previous councils I have been on have always talked about getting information out to the public and having the public participate because the public seems apathetic,” she said. “But then when you put something forward and people start asking questions…..I know the economic benefits could probably be wonderful but at some point more information should come out to the public.”