Mayor pleased with Yes vote in Lake Country rail referendum

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Despite a yes vote in the Lake Country rail referendum, the Mayor of Lake Country says there is still work to do.

A record-breaking turnout of 4,462 voters, 47.9 per cent of eligible electors, came out to have their say in the Okanagan rail corridor referendum. The Yes side won with a 3-1 ratio.

"I'm very pleased with the result. I think the Yes team worked very hard and the No team made some points that won't be forgotten," Mayor James Baker said. "We have to make sure we look after the issues they have and work together to end up with a product that doesn't cost taxpayers any more money than what we're asking to borrow."

Baker said CN granted an extension on subject to dates so the referendum could go ahead after the alternative approval process failed. At this time, CN is holding to the June 1 deadline for the actual closing date.

"They might want an extension on the actual closing date in order to deal with some of the issues with rights of first refusal and the Okanagan Indian Band's right to the corridor which is mostly along Kalamalka Lake," he said.

If the sale goes ahead, it could still be up to a year before local jurisdictions actually get their hands on the land.

"CN has to remove the tracks and the ties and remediate the soil up to current environmental standard since it's along a riparian area," Baker said. "That would probably take a year before we actually get it turned over to the jurisdiction team; the Regional District of the North okanagan, Lake Country and Kelowna"

What is unknown at this time is how negotiations are going with the two property owners with first rightof refusal.

"Everytime we have asked, all they're saying is 'we've been told to say nothing because its confidential,' so it's between CN and those property owners," Baker said.

Doug Gilchrist, head of the negotiating team purchasing the corridor from CN, could not be immediately reached for comment on Sunday. 

Brad Regnier

Brad Regnier

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CENTURY 21 Assurance Realty Ltd.
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