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OKIB will help with rail trail

The Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) wants to play a role in developing the Okanagan Rail Trail.

The idea for a 50-kilometre trail from Kelowna to Coldstream along scenic Duck and Kalamalka lakes was birthed when Kelowna Pacific Railway stopped using the rail line in 2013.

In December 2014, Kelowna, Lake Country, Coldstream, Vernon and the regional districts of Central Okanagan and North Okanagan, purchased the land from CN Rail for $22 million and plans were discussed to make it a destination recreation trail.

In March 2015, the band laid claim to a portion of the land involved in the sale, saying the part of the rail right of way that runs through Commonage Indian Reserve No. 9 reverted back to reserve land when it stopped being used for railway purposes.

In June, the injunction by the band was denied in B.C. Supreme Court.

In a press release issued Wednesday, OKIB stated: “Since our injunction application to reclaim our reserve lands affected by the proposed trail was denied last year, we have chosen to move forward in a new direction to ensure our involvement and demonstrate our desire to engage in positive discussions with our neighbours.

“As the cultural gateway to the Okanagan, council seeks to partner on investments that will have significant benefits to the region. We look forward to actively participating in the planning, development and management activities of the IDT (Inter-jurisdictional Development Team). However, our participation does not affect our title, or specific claims to the proposed lands.”

Of the 47.5-km rail corridor, a 2.5-km section lies within the boundaries of the Duck Lake Indian Reserve 7. Another section of the trail falls in the Commonage area, which the band asserts was taken from them unlawfully.

The band has designated Darcy Aubin, director of lands and economic development as OKIB representative on the four-person working group.

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