Splatsin, Regional District of North Okanagan, and Columbia Shuswap Regional District ownership partners received formal decision from the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) allowing a change of use for the former CP Rail Corridor to public greenway trail. It is another important milestone in the development of the Shuswap North Okanagan Rail Trail corridor between Sicamous and Armstrong within Splatsin territory of the Secwépemc Nation.
In the recent statement, the Agricultural Land Commission stated they were, “satisfied with the measures proposed in the Application to mitigate agricultural/Trail conflicts that could negatively impact adjacent agricultural operations.” The statement goes on to affirm the adaptive approach being taken by the rail trail owners, noting the panel’s appreciation of their efforts to consult with adjacent landowners.
The rail trail between Sicamous and Armstrong passes next to 46 agricultural properties. The rail trail review process included an assessment of each of the properties by a professional agrologist, letters and open house consultations, feedback through the Agricultural Land Commission, and on-site visits.
A plan has been developed by the rail trail owners to respond to concerns that might affect adjacent agricultural activities. Some of the concerns include: trespass and vandalism, management of invasive weeds, fencing, ensuring farm equipment is able to cross between fields, and policies for trail users with dogs.
The rail trail owners have committed to address potential issues by developing a trail-user code of etiquette in agricultural areas, installing signage and advisory notices, creating site specific instructions during peak harvesting periods, maintaining buffers along the corridor, implementing a dogs-on-leash policy, and conducting annual management of invasive species. Once built, monitoring and feedback from local farms will allow further solutions to be developed where a concern or conflict is identified.
“It has been a particularly rewarding opportunity to meet with so many of the region’s agricultural community,” said Phil McIntyre-Paul with the Shuswap Trail Alliance, who assisted the rail trail owners in coordinating the agricultural consultation and planning process. “The rail trail presents a very unique opportunity to strengthen awareness and support of our local farming families, and connect people more closely to the importance of local food production.”
The Rail Trail owners are now ready to establish formal crossing agreements with adjacent property owners who cross over the rail trail property with farm vehicles or have waterlines that run underneath it. Anyone with a road or utility crossing should contact Sharen Berger at [email protected] or phone (250) 832-8194 ex 6013.
A copy of the ALC Decision can be viewed on the ACL Application Portal website (application 60525)
Individuals and corporate donors are invited to become partners of the unfolding rail trail story. Follow the links on the Rail Trail website at www.ShuswapNorthOkanaganRailTrail.ca. All contributions are tax-deductible.
For more information visit www.ShuswapNorthOkanaganRailTrail.ca.