Corridor must be saved

The surprise no vote – or rather non-vote – by residents of Lake Country against borrowing to fund purchase of the defunct CN Rail line through the community is one more example of why the alternative approval process stinks.

Firstly, the entire premise of showing your approval by doing nothing – therefore leaving the entire decision up to those who are opposed – is bass ackwards. It's like the "negative option billing" scandal that got a major Canadian cable provider in hot water a few years back.

It's a commonly used trick by municipal governments to ram through projects that might be controversial without the cost of a full-blown referendum.

But it looks like that's where Lake Country is headed after just 960 petitioners sunk the rail proposal.

Under the AAP, just 10 per cent of voters can kibosh a project; and in this case, the dissenters barely squeaked by with only 29 more votes than necessary. It would be hard to imagine the No side mustering enough support to oppose such a worthwhile community project in a 50 per cent plus one referendum.

But we will, in all likelihood, find out the answer soon enough.

In the meantime, the clock is ticking on the availability of the rail corridor, before CN says 'too late' and sells it off piecemeal to the highest bidders. That would be a real shame.

This is the only opportunity communities from Vernon to Kelowna will have to secure the entire stretch for public use in perpetuity. Once it's gone, it's gone.

Can you imagine a more scenic lakefront cycling and hiking path? The rails to trails project would be an unrivalled tourist attraction and source of recreation for locals. It should – must – be saved.

It remains to be seen if Kelowna, or the entire group of affected communities, will pitch in to purchase Lake Country's share to keep the deal on track. Some kind of repayment plan could then be worked out afterwards.

But one thing is certain – for a measly $27 a year, those who signed the petition against the rail buy clearly have no vision for the rail line's future and the great good it could do for tourism in the Okanagan.

— News Director Jon Manchester




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