Lake Country says some mis-information out there on CN Rail Corridor purchase

Mayor releases letter to the editor imploring support while door to door campaign continues in final week of AAP

The District of Lake Country says there has been some mis-information out in the community with regard to the district’s attempted purchase of the CN Rail corridor.

As the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) enters its final week, a door to door campaign in Lake Country is also underway in opposition to the district’s attempt to purchase the rail line.

But Lake Country mayor James Baker said it is important to make sure residents have all the facts if they are going to vote against the process. He says the district can afford the purchase without having to put any other projects on the back-burner.

“We can afford this,” said Baker. “It’s been done in the most prudent way possible with very little impact on taxes. We can’t afford not to do this for the benefit of our community, now and in the future.”

As of last Friday 201 electoral response forms had been returned to Lake Country municipal hall but early this week more were dropped off at the district office as the door-to-door campaign continues.

Under the AAP, if 10 per cent of the population (931 signatures) signs an electoral response form by Feb. 23, the district would not be allowed to go ahead with a borrowing bylaw that would allow it to raise taxes by an estimated 1.68 per cent and borrow $2.6 million.

“There is no Plan B,” said Baker. “If local governments are not successful in purchasing the corridor it could be sold off in parcels to private interests. This would mean losing control over 16 kilometres of prime, linear real estate in our community; much of it beautiful waterfront that our residents or visitors cannot access now, and most likely never would if sold privately.”

Lake Country’s portion of the total $22 million price for the rail corridor is $5 million. Under a memorandum of understanding, Kelowna will purchase the other half of the line through Lake Country for $2.5 million. The district can then pay Kelowna back with no interest on the $2.5 million for the first three years.

Kelowna, Lake Country and the North Okanagan Regional District are part of the multi-jurisdictional group that have a sales and purchase agreement with CN Rail to purchase the rail corridor for $22 million total.

If the AAP does not pass in Lake Country, the group will have to find another way to fund the purchase. Kelowna’s portion of $7.6 million will come from reserves while NORD will also pay it’s $1.9 million portion without raising taxes. The remaining $7.3 million is expected to come from higher levels of government.

The parties signed the sales agreement on Dec. 1, 2014 and were given 120 days to complete financing on the deal.