Rail line purchased

Outdoor enthusiasts will have another trail to enjoy now that a second piece of rail land has been purchased.

The Regional District of North Okanagan and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District announced Tuesday they have completed the purchase of a section of CP Rail corridor from Sicamous to Armstrong, excluding a number of sections owned by the Splatsin First Nation.

Bob Fleming, RDNO board chairperson, credits the successful purchase to a collective regional vision and a commitment to co-operation.

“Similar to the Okanagan Rail Trail, this purchase of rail corridor will provide numerous benefits to the North Okanagan and Columbia Shuswap areas, including significant recreation and economic opportunities,” said Fleming.

In partnership with the Splatsin and its segments of rail property, this strategic land acquisition will ensure the continued public ownership of a key linear corridor to be used for recreational opportunities, including walking and cycling, while retaining it for future transportation and economic development needs.

There is also long-term potential to connect the corridor to the Okanagan Rail Trail, currently under development between Kelowna and Coldstream.

“From the beginning, this project has helped to initiate relationships with our Splatsin and RDNO partners. The CSRD is excited to continue to build on these relationships with the opportunities for regional economic and recreational development, as well as the opportunity to learn more of the cultural history of the rail line,” said Rhona Martin, CSRD boar chairperson. “This new way of connecting our communities will go a long way in creating a stronger region. I am excited to see these benefits unfold.”

The cost of the purchase was $6.5 million, and with the provincial government’s contribution of $2.17 million announced last March, the RDNO and CSRD have paid for the purchase on a 50-50 basis, with the RDNO securing funding through borrowing approved through public assent, and the CSRD funding its portion through a combination of borrowing and contributions from the Sicamous/Area “E” Economic Opportunity Fund ($250,000), and from the Revelstoke/Area “B” Economic Opportunity Fund ($100,000).

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