A memorandum of understanding has been reached between the Okanagan Indian Band, the City of Kelowna and the District of Lake Country on several health, safety and infrastructure improvements, including completion of the Okanagan Rail Trail.
Byron Louis, Chief of the Okanagan Band, says they are "pleased to have agreed on a path forward" with the nearby municipalities, while Kelowna mayor Basran called it a "historic agreement" with "positive cultural and economic spin-offs for the entire region."
OKIB has agreed to provide access to the Okanagan Rail Trail once the federal government adds the lands to its reserve. It will clear the way for the final link to the regional recreational corridor. The federal government and OKIB have both suggested the other party is responsible for pushing the project forward at this point.
Another major element of the MOU will see the three jurisdictions work together to have Commonwealth Road opened as an arterial access to Jim Bailey Road from Highway 97 to address capacity issues on Beaver Lake Road.
The City of Kelowna will take the lead on that project and reach out to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to improve the road to handle truck and car traffic. There will be public consultation with businesses and residents in the area.
Here are the goals set out in the MOU:
- the opportunity for water and sewer services to existing properties and availability of servicing for future developments,
- a road access to a parcel of land on the east side of Duck Lake, and
- an Addition to Reserve for the Okanagan Rail Trail corridor.
Lake Country Objectives:
- to have Commonwealth Road opened as an arterial access to Jim Bailey Road from Highway 97 to address capacity issues on Beaver Lake Road,
- to complete the Okanagan Rail Trail,
- to secure interim sewer servicing from the City of Kelowna,
- dedication of a road right-of-way north from Beaver Lake Road to the Clearwater/Copperhill subdivision, and
- a minor boundary adjustment.
City of Kelowna Objectives:
- to complete the development of the Okanagan Rail Trail,
- to protect the City’s main sewer line within the rail trail right-of-way through the IR#7,
- to obtain full access for the industrial lands via Commonwealth Road, and
- water supply from Lake Country for the entire neighbourhood.
“While the details will take time to flesh out for each of the various agreements, there will be significant safety and economic benefits for each community. Working together will also amplify our voice inspiring collaboration and participation from the provincial and federal governments on these important infrastructure projects,” said Lake Country Mayor James Baker.
“Improvements to water and wastewater on IR#7 will ensure a safe water supply and reduce septic pollution while road improvements will increase safety and pave the way for economic development opportunities. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to accomplish the road improvements," said OKIB chief Byron Louis.