The Okanagan Rail Trail is one of the most popular cycling routes in the area, but for years, it has been interrupted for nearly seven kilometers just north of the Kelowna International Airport. However, that is expected to change soon.
The City of Kelowna's General Manager of Infrastructure, Mac Logan, announced that a draft agreement is in the hands of the federal government for final approval. The deal includes the transfer of land from the federal government to the Okanagan Indian Band, as well as involvement from both the City of Kelowna and the District of Lake Country. According to Logan, unless there are any surprises, the agreement should be in place within weeks, not months.
The completion of the Okanagan Rail Trail has been a priority for all three jurisdictions involved. Lake Country's Director of Parks, Recreation, and Culture, Matt Vader, stated that the agreement encompasses much more than just the completion of the trail, including water and road connections. However, the completion of the trail is certainly a priority.
For cycling enthusiasts, the completion of the Okanagan Rail Trail can't come soon enough. Landon Bradshaw from the Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition expressed his excitement at the news, stating that the closure of the section at Duck Lake has been a thorn in the side of the cycling community for years. He also brought up the tragic death of a cyclist who chose to take a detour around the closed section, stating that it was a preventable accident that could have been avoided if the section had been open.
The rail trail opened in 2018, but the section in question has remained closed due to complications in the deal involving the federal government, two municipalities, and a local First Nation. However, it seems that a deal is finally close, and observers believe the missing section of the rail trail could be fully in place by the end of the year.
Not only will the completion of the Okanagan Rail Trail be a boost for recreational cycling, but it will also provide a huge opportunity for commuters. As Bradshaw stated, "We need more of this. This helps people make a choice to actually ride their bike." #railtrail #kelowna #cyclepath #smithcreek #okanagan