Update 13 February, 2016:
As described in the follow-on story in The Herald, the RDOS has withdrawn its opposition to this project until the source of the funds has been clarified. There are two components:
- A $110K design plan for the trail segment between Summerland and Penticton
- The $4-$10M construction of the trail segment.
Our understanding was that both the design plan and the construction would be partnerships with the province, meaning the RDOS (including Penticton and Summerland) would be expected to contribute a significant portion of the funding. Even if the construction costs were at the lower end of the $4M-$10M range, the project would be too expensive for the RDOS. Hence our original refusal to participate.
However, the Province of BC may upgrade this stretch of road (two cars have gone into the lake recently) and may build the path from Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure budget as long as the design plan is in place. Thus, the RDOS may be asked to foot part of the bill for the plan but not for the construction of the path. Such an arrangement would change my assessment of the project significantly.
So we are going to wait a bit to see what the province does.
There has been some discussion about a lakeside trail from Summerland to Penticton (see James Miller's news story and my comment). The proposed route is part of a larger project: The Trail of the Okanagans.
The Okanagan Lake trail is compelling. However, as noted in the news story above, its cost is substantial, especially compared with the cost of the alternative: the KVR trail from Summerland to Penticton.
Recall that the ownership of the KVR has been a contentious issue (see thread). I have always maintained that once the PIB takes ownership, the RDOS should do its best to negotiate some form of tenure on the land in order to formalize a walking, cycling (and likely horseback riding) trail. Not sure about motorized traffic at this point--my guess is not.
Although many people talk about the route to the Trout Creek trestle, a significant benefit of this trail is the southern portion into Penticton (indicated with a yellow line below):
A nicely surfaced trail could provide a safe and convenient route between the West Bench and Penticton. I have ridden this on my bike many times with my son (he used it to commute to work). Although it is currently far from ideal (due to surfacing and a missing bridge) it has enormous potential.
The missing bridge is where the yellow line above meets the Penticton River Channel. There used to be a rail bridge over the channel but it was dismantled. My guess is the CPR did not want the liability. It is too bad because a bridge at this location would allow you to cross the channel and be in town.
So wouldn't it be great if there was a foot bridge over the channel at this location? Some work would be required on the Penticton side to link safely into the road network. But the idea is that one could get from Summerland to Okanagan College on Duncan Avenue without encountering a vehicle or a hill greater than 2%. To get some idea of how this might look, consider Princeton's spectacular bridge over the Similkameen:
My thinking--possibly naive--is as follows: if the Government of British Columbia is willing to contribute $2M to the lakeside trail they should be willing to contribute a similar amount to the KVR trail.
Please let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions.