Manic Monday – June 13, 2016

Midnight Musings from our CEO

Rail Tails…

Over history people of all ages have been fascinated with the Railway.  Massive machines travelling at high speed along thin metals rails, the concept seemingly impossible, and yet each small town along the route bore witness to its reality.

Being in the presence of a train was and still is almost magical, they have a mythical quality akin to something almost unworldly, like the concept of dragons or dinosaurs. The rail lines themselves provided their own unique fascination. The “tracks” that passed through each town were a constant reminder of the worlds that lay just beyond and the promise of things and people to come – this incredible, almost implausible, transportation system that built our regions, our provinces and a nation.  It is therefore not surprising that there is a sense of melancholy as train routes over time have been replaced by other less costly and more efficient modes of transportation.

Today in many locations, and specifically within the Thompson Okanagan, these former rail lines have been and are being reinvented through the Rails to Trails initiatives. Hundreds of miles of rail line reborn as trails for outdoor enthusiasts.  Fortunately, the rail lines for the most part were built with less than a 3% grade in order for the trains of the day to be able to navigate the routes thus providing us trails that are quite accessible for many ages and abilities. These trails not only provide our communities with healthy outdoor recreational options but create the strong potential for increased domestic and international tourism visitors.

To that end, TOTA with the support of Destination BC brought together hundred of industry stakeholders and community leaders over the course of the past several months to complete a Rail Trail Tourism Strategy that we believe will assist in ensuring these Rail Trails are not only established, but that there is a plan in place for their longer term development and ongoing maintenance allowing for future generations to enjoy the trails as well as the stories and history of these great routes.

Over history the railway brought economic development and financial benefits to communities throughout our region. Today, thanks again to the railway lines this same potential is being realized as businesses along these former rail corridors are developing or redeveloping themselves to provide services to the growing number of visitors to these trails. One initiative that TOTA also worked closely on this past winter with Destination BC was the implementation of the Remarkable Experiences Business Development pilot.  The program brought together 10 operators of various sizes and types from Christina Lake to Summerland that all play a role in the Kettle Valley Rail Trail experience .  Through workshops and training this business operators saw the potential for their products and services, expanded their reach online, and realized that they were better and stronger working together as collaborators than as competitors (view video).

The Rail Trails of the Thompson Okanagan have significant potential for our future economic vitality … lets all get on board!

Read all of this weeks New Centre stories at

We hope you keep following and contributing on TOTA’s Facebook and twitter sites throughout the week; send us your stories, photos, events  and remarkable experiences. Make sure the industry knows what is happening around our region.

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