Plan for trail link between Kalamalka, Wood lakes

Presently, Canadian National is reviewing bids from interested parties to operate a rail service from Coldstream to Kelowna.

Lake Country officials are waiting to see if they have a role in a proposed recreation corridor connecting Kalamalka and Wood lakes.

Council received a presentation at its Tuesday night meeting from the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative, which is interested in creating a trail along Kalamalka and Wood lakes if the rail line is not used for freight traffic.

“It’s a great idea and it’s good to get the word out about the idea but the municipality can’t do anything about it at this point,” said Coun. Lisa Cameron.

Presently, Canadian National is reviewing bids from interested parties to operate a rail service from Coldstream to Kelowna.

If there is no interest from the private sector, the federal and provincial governments will be asked if they want the property. If that doesn’t occur, local government will have between March 5 and April 4 to state if there is interest in acquiring the track.

“It won’t come down to the municipal level until they (CN) have exhausted all other opportunities,” said Cameron.

Mayor James Baker believes the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative’s plan may be premature.

“The presentation would be best after we have some idea of what’s happening,” he said of CN’s process.

Coun. Owen Dickie says that beyond a hiking/cycling trail, another long-term option could be public transit.

“It would be good to see the trail bed remain as a corridor,” he said.

It could possibly cost between $15 and $25 million to purchase the 50-kilometre track.

“It will be difficult for any local governments to take on to buy it when it should be a federal issue,” said Baker, adding that the federal government provided the land to the railway company for free decades ago.