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Communities collaborate to help fund the completion of Okanagan rail trail

A number of fundraising events have been lined up to respond to a donation matching challenge and raise enough money to fund the final phase of the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative.

On April 3, local Kelowna philanthropist George Galbraith donated $150,000 to honour his parents and grandparents and help fund the construction and completion phase of a 48.5 km long rail trail that would run from Coldstream to Kelowna.

Galbraith has also pledged another $150,000 to match future donations towards the Okanagan Rail Trail.

In response to the donation matching challenge, communities from Kelowna to the North Okanagan have organized a series of fundraising initiatives, from selling goods and services to hosting events like cycling tours and walks.

One such event occurred on Friday when over 600 Lake Country students walked to raise $18,425 for the rail trail. Their contribution will be matched by Calbraith to total over 1/4km of trail construction.

Currently, nearly ⅔ of the matching pledge has been met, leaving roughly $55,000 for donation matching.

“The community response has been phenomenal”, says Galbraith. “Communities from Vernon to Kelowna have worked together and been so creative. Sales of burgers, burritos, olive oil, coffee and nuts, and services including photography, chiropractic, optometry, realtor, and yoga classes, are samples of how local businesses are helping to finish the rail trail. In Lake Country, students and businesses made a huge contribution with a fundraising walk. With fun events planned in each community, it looks like I will be making my matching donation sooner than expected!”

According to Trail Ambassador Laurie Postill, the donation matching campaign could meet its target before the deadline on June 30th.

“The matching campaign may be met before the original June 30 deadline,” said Postill. “From outdoor concerts to cycling tours, there are many more fundraising events lined up. If you want to be sure your donation is matched, you can donate now, online ( or at either the North Okanagan or Central Okanagan Community Foundation.”

As of May 5th, 2017, 28.46km of the rail trail has been funded which is just over 57% of the 48.5 km goal.

Once completed, the trail will span 17.8 km in Kelowna, 2.3 km in Okanagan Indian Band, 16.3 km in Lake Country and 12.1 km in Regional District of North Okanagan.

The trail will offer people spectacular lakeshore views as well as a safe route for future trail construction.

Those involved in the campaign say the trail will appeal to all ages and abilities, connect Okanagan communities and create a unique legacy for future generations.

Around 3,353 individuals have donated to the matching campaign which is currently made up of 39 business partners, 35 trail ambassadors, and 15 campaign partners.

In addition, four local governments, including the City of Kelowna, District of Lake Country, Okanagan Indian Band and the North Okanagan Regional District are working together on helping complete the Okanagan Rail Trail Initiative.

To donate to the rail trail initiative, click here.

To find out more about the rail trail, click here.

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