The path is now clear for the North Okanagan Regional District to borrow millions of dollars to pay for its share of the abandoned CP Rail corridor between Armstrong and Sicamous.
A report to NORD’s board of directors shows only 91 people voted in an alternative approval process against borrowing $2.3 million to acquire the old rail line which is to be developed into recreational trails, much like the Okanagan Rail Trail. Voting ended on Monday.
The total cost of the purchase is $6.5 million dollars. The cost is being split between the province, NORD and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District. Some parts of the line are owned by the Splatsin who are working in partnership with the regional districts.
According to a report to the board, the total number of qualified electors able to vote in the alternative approval process was 16,588 and ten per cent had to vote against borrowing the funds for it to fail.
The board is now expected to proceed with a bylaw authorizing the regional district to borrow the money which will be repaid over a period not to exceed 20 years.
The proposed land acquisition is intended to ensure public ownership of a key corridor that could 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, between Coldstream and Kelowna.