It’s been a long time coming, but the Okanagan Rail Trail will officially open later this month.
The eagerly awaited official opening takes place Sept.27, and everyone is invited to attend the celebration that will begin at 11 a.m. at the Oyama Boat Launch on Wood Lake, 15455 Oyama Rd.
The boat launch will be closed for the duration of the event until approximately 2:30 p.m.
“In addition to supporting healthy, intergenerational activities and connecting communities, we are confident the Okanagan Rail Trail will become a magnificent tourism amenity adding to the local economy,” said Mayor James Baker, District of Lake Country.
Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, attendees will take a celebratory trip along the trail to Woodsdale Road, approximately 6.5 km.
“This trail is a valuable connection between the Central Okanagan and North Okanagan, and offers residents and visitors an alternative mode of transportation between our communities,” said Mayor Basran, City of Kelowna. “In Kelowna, it connects neighbourhoods, town centres, the university, the airport and many recreational amenities in the city – helping to link people from their home to where they work and play.”
The Okanagan Rail Corridor spans 49.5 km from Coldstream to Kelowna’s downtown core.
More than 24 km of the trail follows lakeshore, creeks and unique natural environments.
“The Okanagan Rail Trail offers opportunities for all who use it to learn about the Syilx (Okanagan) people, our territory and part of the rich history of the Okanagan Valley,” said Chief Louis, Okanagan Indian Band.
While majority of the trail is open, access between the Kelowna International Airport and Duck Lake is still closed to the public.
ORT officials said those lands are being reviewed by senior government through the federal reserve process and Agricultural Land Commission. It’s asked that trail users respect this closure.
The completion of the trail development is attributed to the community-based fundraising campaign by the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative (ORTI). The ORTI supported the work required to design and build a continuous basic trail from Coldstream to Kelowna by raising $7.8 million.
The Government of Canada provided nearly $1.4 million through the New Building Canada Fund, and $471,500 from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. Trail development also received nearly $1.3 million from Government of British Columbia through BikeBC and the Rural Dividend Fund.