Lake Country: Referendum is residents’ chance to shape community

With CN Rail corridor referendum Saturday, its time for residents to have their say after pitches from yes and no side

One of the biggest decisions in the history of Lake Country will be made on Saturday, 20 years after the small community incorporated as its own municipality.

Residents will vote tomorrow on whether to allow the district to borrow $2.6 million to become a partner in the purchase of the CN Rail corridor running from Kelowna, through Lake Country, to Vernon.

“Borrowing to participate as a funding partner to acquire this significant land asset in our jurisdiction is our community’s best chance to retain control over the use of the corridor, as well as the surplus lands for all citizens of Lake Country,” said Mayor James Baker.

Baker said borrowing the $2.6 million won’t change the way Lake Country goes about its business

All other community priorities will be funded as required, regardless of the financial commitment to the CN corridor lands, he said.

“We see great value in protecting the corridor for use as a public right-of-way that would benefit residents of Lake Country for generations,” said Michael Mercer, director of engineering and environmental services. “Once the discontinuance process has concluded, and assuming public ownership is achieved, local governments will establish construction and operation agreements; determine future costs and other considerations as part of protecting the rail corridor for future generations.”

The move to borrow the funds has been a hot topic in Lake Country as residents have expressed concern with the unknown future costs of the purchase while proponents and the district say taxpayers won’t be asked for more money to develop the corridor.

In the end it will be up to voters to have the final say and turnout at five advance polls have already seen more people out to vote than in the 2014 municipal election.

“Lake Country electors will have the final say in Lake Country’s involvement with the acquisition project,” said Mayor Baker.  “I encourage every citizen to make the effort to get the facts about the project and make sure they have a say in this historic decision.”

Residents will have a final opportunity to cast their ballot for the Lake Country Okanagan Rail Corridor borrowing bylaw Referendum on Saturday, April 25 at George Elliot Secondary School, Community Gym, with the polls open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Results of the referendum are expected to be made public by late Saturday night and will be posted here as soon as they are released