Pitch made for rail trail governance

Businessman wants firm structure to manage and market corridor from Coldstream to Kelowna

Local politicians are being warned that simply opening up the Okanagan Rail Trail isn’t enough.

Alan Gatzke, an Oyama businessperson, told the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee Thursday that a governance model is needed to operate and market the recreational corridor from Coldstream to Kelowna.

“All of us are in this together and all of us want the trail to be as much as it can be,” he said.

“There’s a vacuum in governance moving forward.”

Based on observations of New Zealand’s trail networks, Gatzke is suggesting a not-for-profit society be formed locally.

“It creates the foundation for branding, marketing, economic development and tourism opportunities while sustaining and improving the trail,” said the former Lake Country councillor.

“It improves communication between operators, users, the public and government.”

Gatzke is concerned that the jurisdictions that purchased the corridor are veering off in different directions, including Kelowna closing off the trail until it is developed while Lake Country and the Regional District of North Okanagan are letting it be used.

“There are inconsistencies,” he said.

“Without some cohesive governance model in place, there will be public confusion. It’s important that the trail be named and that name be registered.”

After hearing from Gatzke, GVAC members admitted that his concept needs further consideration.

“We have a raw product and we have to determine what we do with it. This gives us a lot of food for thought,” said Catherine Lord, director.

“What you’re suggesting is it’s more than a trail, it’s marketing. What’s our role in that?” added director Mike Macnabb.

RDNO will be meeting with Kelowna, Lake Country and the Okanagan Indian Band to discuss corridor issues, but Juliette Cunningham, GVAC chairperson, says another partner must also be involved in the process.

“We have to give the public an opportunity for their vision,” she said.

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