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Rail trail builds steam

A study that looks into the proposed impact of a multi-use trail from Coldstream to Kelowna shows that it could have an economic impact of almost $3.5 million dollars.

Members of the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative Society commissioned the report, which was prepared by Westcoast CED Consulting in conjunction with Lions Gate Consulting and Peak Solutions Consulting.

They anticipate almost 100,000 people will use the trail in its first year, and upwards of 600,000 users by year five.

The trail would provide a continuous corridor winding along Kalamalka and Wood Lakes, with staging areas to access the different communities along the way. It would also include access to other trail systems already in place, including industrial sites and transport systems like the airport and bus stops, and even UBCO trails.

If the idea were to come to fruition, it would go a long way in completing a 205-km trail from Coldstream to Osoyoos.

The report states that as part of their expected economic impact, visitor spending along the trail would be $3.47 million in the first year, rising to over $6 million by year five. It would also bring employment income of  $2.1 million of the first 15 years.

But their dream is still a ways away.

CN Rail currently owns the line and has been in talks with at least one company about a possible sale. That window of opportunity closes next week on June 2. If a sale is not finalized by then it will be available to governments at all levels as part of the abandonment process.

If no interest is shown, then the trail society hopes the line can be made into the corridor of their dreams.

The complete study can be found under the resources tab on the Kelowna Rail Trail website.

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