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After five years of planning, fundraising and construction, a portion of the Okanagan Rail Trail officially opened this week.
While a section of the trail is still not connected, the completed trail will eventually span nearly 50 kilometres from Kelowna to Coldstream, B.C.
Almost half of the trail will run along lakes, creeks and greenways, according to Brad Clements, a spokeperson for the Okanagan Rail Trail.
"It's pretty spectacular for an urban-type trail to have so much nature around it," Clements said.
A paved part of the Okanagan Rail Trail in Kelowna. (Brad Clements)
Phase one completeThe bike and hiking trail is a converted abandoned CN rail track, which the City of Kelowna, along with other municipalities, bought for approximately $22 million, according to Clements.
About 34 kilometres of the trail is now open. There was a grand opening for phase one of the trail on Thursday. The full trail is supposed to connect Coldstream at the north end, through Vernon, Lake Country and into downtown Kelowna at the south end.
Almost half of the Okanagan Rail Trail will run along lakes, creeks and greenways, according to Brad Clements, an ambassador for the trail. (Maryse Zeidler/CBC)
More than 300,000 people have used the trail already, according to Clements. He says many people are thrilled about the trail, particularly seniors who appreciate the flat terrain.
"It's truly a dream come true," says Clements.
Holes in the trail
However, there are still gaps in the trail.
Last week, the Agricultural Land Commission issued a report rejecting plans for part of the trail that runs north of Kelowna International Airport to Winfield.
In the report, the ALC mentioned concerns like public safety, trespassing and littering on properties in the region.
In addition, the part of the trail that runs through the Okanagan Indian Band is not completed yet.
Clements said all the money is raised, and organizers are in the process of engineering and planning. The band has been on board since the early stages of the project.
"The land inside the Okanagan Indian Band, that has to go through a federal process where they transfer the land from CN to the federal government to the band. [That] is in the works," Clements said.
There is no completion date set for the entire trail yet, but Clements says organizers are on track.
"There are a few moving pieces, but they're all heading in the right direction."
This article first appeared on www.cbc.ca
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