To the editor:
The Agricultural Land Commission has determined what’s arguably the most important section of the Okanagan Rail Trail is now unfit for use as a transportation corridor connecting Kelowna to the North Okanagan.
They want that section of the trail set aside for interests not compatible with the rail trail’s original, century-old and everlasting reason for existence.
My only question about the ALC’s ruling is whether it’s the ALC’s business to decide upon the continued use of a right-of-way that was federally endorsed for the public good, surveyed, and built for freight and passenger transportation a century ago by the federal government using provincial and federal money.
Canadians paid for it and we own it, because it remains in the public interest and Canadians have used it ever since, so how can the ALC reasonably suggest otherwise?
The Okanagan Rail Trail is a public highway providing the same access for Canadians that it did a hundred years ago, only now with the rails gone its value is exponentially higher for tourism, non-mechanized transportation, and recreation.
It’s the only practical connector linking people, communities, and services throughout the Central and North Okanagan for those who don’t drive.
I rode the hazardous four kilometres Highway 97 bypass around the blockade three times last year, but I won’t do it again because I questioned my sanity for it every time. It’s far too dangerous.
The ALC’s mandate is only to preserve agricultural land and promote farming, but I disagree with their ruling that fear of litter and vandalism should take precedence over the safety of untold numbers of pedestrians and tourists forced to walk or ride the highway around their blockade.
In my opinion, I don’t think it makes any more sense for the ALC to contemplate the rail trail’s fate than it would be for them to say how many other established highways should be used.
In my mind, the only comment one should have for the ALC’s Rail Trail ruling is, with respect, “Thank you for your considered opinion, but who was it that asked you?”