Use trail at your own risk

Hikers and bikers can once again use the north end of the Okanagan Rail Trail but they must do so at their own risk.

Rock scaling and heavy equipment work along 12 kilometres of line from Coldstream to Kekuli Bay has wrapped up – for now.

“I can't guarantee (heavy equipment) won't be back on the trail again, but at this time they have constructed the base level and most of the construction is done,” said Mike Fox, community services general manager for the North Okanagan Regional District. “I believe there is signage and some other work that has to happen yet, so we do recommend caution if somebody is walking on the trail or using the trail.”

Fox said although the trail won't be officially opened until all the work along the 48.5 km former rail line is complete, access is no longer being blocked. He said rock scaling work continues along Lake Country's portion of the trail.

During a meeting of the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee on Thursday, Coldstream director Doug Dirk expressed concern over the possibility of further rock fall along cliff areas of the trail.

“You can never guarantee a perfectly safe environment,” conceded David Sewell. “At the end of the day, there will be rockfall.”

But Sewell said the regional district was doing its due diligence, such as having qualified contractors carry out the rock scaling and ensuring the cliffs were regularly inspected.

Sewell said there had been efforts to move part of the trail away from the cliff and signage would be going up, warning people not to stop in certain areas.

“We're not going to be putting picnic areas in there,” Sewell joked.

Staff from all the jurisdictions, Kelowna, Lake Country, OKIB and NORD continue to hold collaborative meeting. A letter is to be sent asking for City of Vernon and District of Coldstream staff members to also take part in those talks.

As well, the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative continues to raise money to finish off work along the trail.

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