Trail makers told to take a hike
Sep 19, 2012 / 7:20 am
A well-used Okanagan trail was the subject of discussion at an often heated meeting held Tuesday evening in Naramata.
Hundreds of people filled Columbia Hall at the Naramata Centre to view a concept plan and ask questions about the proposed development and use of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail and associated trails between Naramata and Chute Lake.
For the most part their message was don't mess with a good thing.
"Everyone in Naramata uses the KVR, it is our backyard, and I don't understand why all of a sudden it's no to motorized vehicles and only foot traffic," said Daryn Semancik, who drew a big applause from the crowd for his comments. "Even a man whose son died up there is here supporting it tonight."
The BC government, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and community representatives have been working to develop a consensus based plan for the trail and surrounding areas that meets the needs of all user groups.
On Tuesday night, John Hawkings, provincial trails manager, laid out a plan that included trail use designations, motorized opportunity development and KVR Trail development.
Among the designations were non-motorized with motorized access for tenure holders from Penticton city boundary to Arawana Road, non-motorized from Arawana Road to Little Tunnel and shared used from Little Tunnel to Glenfir Trailhead.
He then outlined where motorized opportunities would exist and the improvements to the trail.
Among the improvements are resurfacing non-motorized portions, a signage program and infrastructure improvements.
The plan is to be implemented over the next two years and is based on available resources.
We are looking at this and tweaking it," said Hawkings. "We anticipate having reasonable funds and for the majority of the work to happen next year."
In response to anger expressed by many before the question and answer period even began he said he understood changes to the trail are a passionate topic.
"These things aren't easy, I absolutely understand that. We are trying to do the best we can."
In the past there has been opposition to the use of the trail by different vehicles. Cyclists and hikers say they drive too fast, stir up dust and degrade the surface of the trail.
Many fear tourists will be put off by having to share the KVR with motorized vehicles.
Randy Prime of Penticton took that stance at the meeting.
"I am an active walker, hiker and casual biker, who has walked and biked every section of the trail," he said. "And I have always had trouble with the concept that vehicles have been allowed on it."
But there was no changing the mind of people like Semancik.
"People need to remember a bloody coal engine ran down it to transport people for years," he said.
The provincial rail trails network across southern British Columbia makes up more than half of the 1,600-kilometre Trans Canada Trail. Since 2004, BC has invested more than $26 million to maintain and rehabilitate the province's recreation sites and trails system, including more than $6 million for BC’s Rail Trail network.
Read more South Okanagan News
- New MLA bids adieu to Oliver council May 15
- Three arrested in drug bust May 15
- Preventive work at Oliver flood zone May 13
- Motorcycle crash kills one near Penticton May 12
- Rally to help Penticton children's festival May 10