Trail: 'Let's get it built'

Construction of the 48 kilometre Okanagan Rail Trail begins Tuesday.

Starting this week, rock scaling begins at the north end of the trail, followed within weeks by construction of the  compacted crushed aggregate pathway.

Members of the public have been advised that the trail will be closed for the winter months, from one kilometre south of Kickwillie Loop in Coldstream all the way to Kekuli Bay Provincial Park.

“If someone wanders onto the trail then they'll have to shut down the work and that will lead to costs,” explained Brad Clement of the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative which has raised millions of dollars to fund the trail.

Officials have also stressed the closure is a safety issue.

“The focus now is on getting the trail built," said Clements. "It's the local residents providing the donations for the trail, along with government grant money...so let's get the trail opened so the locals can use it.”

Clement called the phase one work “super, super exciting.”

However he warned the trail could be closed right up until March or even longer.

“There is significant erosion along Kalamalka Lake. Work can't be done now as the water is too high but there have been engineers, water wave experts, looking at the plan. The trail might be closed until the spring. It will likely be until March.”

Clement said marketing or branding of the trail can wait.

“These plans take about five years to get marketing up to speed, get connections in place, let tourists know what is on offer. It's really five years to refine the marketing with signage, informations booths and to get some great feedback.”

Clement said the inter-jurisdictional team, made up of Kelowna, Lake Country, Coldstream, the Regional District of North Okanagan and the Okanagan Indian Band are looking at the future responsibilities of the rail trail, such as:

  • who's responsible for maintenance
  • who will approve changes to the trail
  • how will the rail trail be branded and marketed

He said various models are being reviewed.

“Their first mandate is to build the trail.”

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