Paralympian Josh Dueck and Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative director Sean Cameron try out a portion of what could be the Okangan Rail Trail

Potential Okanagan Rail Trail would be big economic boost

Volunteer group releases impact assessment of turning old Kelowna Pacific Railway into trail from Coldstream to Kelowna

Members of the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative were joined by a Vernon Paralympian Tuesday morning as the group released an impact assessment for an abandoned stretch of rail line between Kelowna and Coldstream if it is turned into a recreational trail from Kelowna to Coldstream.

The group, which has volunteers from all communities that the rail line goes through, including Kelowna, Lake Country, Oyama and Vernon, is hoping the old Kelowna Pacific Railway line will be turned into a trail passing through 23 parks and 22 points of interest, starting at Kalamalka Lake in Coldstream and ending in the cultural district of downtown Kelowna.

“We’ve had so much public support and (all levels of) government agree that this would be a great opportunity,” said group director Brad Clements. “So many good things could happen if this is turned into a trail.”

The impact assessment released by the group points to major economic and tourism benefits to the trail, including:

•12,500 visitors would be drawn to the trail in its first year, bringing in $3.47 million in visitor spending.

•By its fifth year in operation, the trail would bring over 26,000 new visitors and attract 600,000 total users with $6.7 million in visitor spending.

•Employment in tourism and supply businesses would generate salaries totalling $1.2 million in the first year, rising to $2.2 million by year five and averaging $2.1 million for the first 15 years of operation.

The 70 page report looked at other trails in North America and Europe that were created by using old rail lines.

Clements said the study also pointed to health benefits of providing alternative transportation routes in the Okanagan.

“What (the report) found was an increase in the health of the overall residents because people start getting out and using the trail,” said Clements. “Right now there is no trail linking these communities so if you are cycling you are going along Highway 97 and its not pleasant. We’re very excited that the report shows there are tremendous benefits to protecting the corridor in the event that it is not used as a railway, and we will know that in a weeks time. If it’s not operated as a railway we’d like to keep it as a public space.”

Two-time Paralympic medalist Dueck was on hand to support the movement and says it would be a great way for athletes and families to have a safe place to cycle

“Being an athlete I think it’s a good opportunity to train in safe environment,” said Dueck. “I do a lot of cycling in the summer months and I really believe I’m playing Russian roulette on the roads. There are not a lot of safe cycling paths right now.”

As part of the abandonment process, CN Rail has until June 2 to sell the land that the rail line is on to a group that would operate it as a railway. If that doesn’t happen each level of government will have a 30 day window to potentially purchase the line.

Just Posted

Okanagan residents can win ride in army vehicle

A social media campaign offers the chance to win a ride in the Dragoons armoured vehicle

UPDATE: Kelowna snowboarder being mourned at Big White

He was a local snowboarder, who went to Rutland high school.

Reel Reviews: War from both sides of the desk

We say, “Forgive these films their faults and they will be entertaining enough.”

Residents should keep air intakes clear of snow

Silver Star Fire Department is encouraging residens to keep their air intakes clear after snowfall

Habs alumni raise big money for Kelowna hospice

Central Okanagan Hospice Association was the big winner after alumni hockey game

PHOTOS: Icing the competition

Skate Canada 2018 Okanagan Regional Championships skated through Vernon this weekend

Vagina Monologues hits the Kelowna stage this week

Okanagan production set to target a hot topic: vaginas

Lottery will help save children’s lives

Each ticket gets you a chance to win a lot of money, while helping a lot of kids

Submit nominations for 2018 Okanagan College Alumni Awards

Deadline for nominations is Wednesday, March 14

Family home, police car targets of shootings in Keremeos

There were no injuries in two shootings that occurred in Keremeos over the weekend

RCMP officer officially cleared in shooting incident

Police watchdog concludes Salmon Arm officer’s use of force was justified

Investigators seek public help to identify accused fraudster

Thousands of dollars in charges racked up on stolen credit card

Interest in Canadian Armed Forces remains high

Canada seeks about 5,000 recruits each year for its regular forces of about 68,000

Rules reviewed to keep drug money out of B.C. real estate

Investigator looking at loans as well as casinos, David Eby says

Most Read