Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, technical planning for the new rail trail between Sicamous and Armstrong has moved ahead over the past two months.
As part of the commitment to tell the true story of the region within the Secwepemc Nation Territory, preliminary assessments have been conducted by Splatsin leadership for both archaeological and cultural heritage values. . As well, planning includes geotechnical, environmental, agricultural, storm water, erosion control, steep slope, and structural bridge assessments by local experts.
Now that it is spring, technical sub-consultants are able to access the currently closed rail corridor to complete this planning work with limited risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
The Governance partners remind everyone the rail trail remains closed until safely developed for walking and cycling. Residents who live near the greenway can expect to see authorized personnel occasionally travelling the corridor by foot or vehicle. Authorized vehicles include ATVs and trucks used by technical experts helping to design the 50 kilometre trail between Sicamous and Armstrong.
Temporary kilometre markers have also been installed to assist in the planning. The work will also include flood monitoring and invasive plant mitigation.
Assembling funds for capital development of the rail trail now becomes a top priority.
The Governance Advisory Committee was disappointed to learn that the Federal/Provincial Government infrastructure grant application was not selected due to over-subscription to the program. But follow-up is underway to reapply and explore additional sources of Provincial and Federal funding.
Political support for the rail trail remains strong among all partners, who recognize the significant social and economic opportunity the rail trail holds for the communities throughout the region. This is particularly important, given the upcoming period of economic recovery following the pandemic.
Once COVID-19 measures allow, in-person consultations and public meetings will resume. Discussion will include the Agricultural Land Commission application currently under review and information updates at local events. In the meantime, everyone is encouraged to check out the rail trail website and call or email with questions or comments.
A technical staff team oversees the rail trail project under the guidance of a Governance Advisory Committee chaired by Splatsin Kukpi7 (Chief) Wayne Christian. It is made up of leadership from Splatsin, the Regional District of North Okanagan, and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District who jointly own the corridor. The Shuswap Trail Alliance provides project management support, with technical engineering provided by Urban Systems Limited.
The Rail Trail partners gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia. A grant through the BC Rural Dividend Program was secured last year, leveraging contributions by the CSRD Electoral Area E and District of Sicamous Economic Initiatives Fund to complete the technical plan.
For more information visit www.ShuswapNorthOkanaganRailTrail.ca.