Cyclists from Lake Country celebrate reaching the north end of the Okanagan Rail Trail at kilometre zero. (Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail/Contributed)

Cyclists from Lake Country celebrate reaching the north end of the Okanagan Rail Trail at kilometre zero. (Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail/Contributed)

Okanagan Rail Trail revamp gets big boost in funding

Cyclists of the Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail receive two big grants to spruce up the trail

A group of local cyclists are fundraising to complete the northern trailhead for the Okanagan Rail Trail – and they just received a big financial boost toward their goal.

The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative awarded the Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail a $72,000 Canada Healthy Communities grant. The Regional District of North Okanagan also kicked in a $25,650 grant to support ongoing work.

Last year, in the first campaign since the trail was built, supporters raised about $75,000 to naturalize the old rail yard as the first phase of trailhead development. The next phase is to finalize the design and create a signature trailhead with a plaza gathering space, distinctive gateway feature and interpretive signage.

The Okanagan Rail Trail will eventually see gateways in each of the three communities along the 50-kilometre route. The northern gateway in Coldstream is the first to be developed and will function both as a trailhead and a unique public space close to Kalamalka Beach. A pathway connects the area to the Coldstream Station parking area on Kalamalka Lake Road and Vernon.

“Our trails and natural spaces have been especially important for community health during the COVID pandemic,” says Akbal Mund, chair of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee.

Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail hopes to raise another $100,000 to complete the trailhead development by 2022.

“Our community has always been very generous to the trail, and we hope to see individuals and community leaders come forward to help us complete this project,” said Laurie Postill with Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail.

To learn more and donate, click here.

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