The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is having a sober second thought on a proposed bike link between Penticton and Summerland along Highway 97.
The board reversed an earlier decision and will give some consideration into a four-way split on the cost of a $110,000 master plan.
But they also haven’t said yes.
The B.C. government proposes a study on a multi-use trail linking Trout Creek to Penticton with the cost being shared by the province, City of Penticton, RDOS and District of Summerland.
Each partner’s share will be $27,500. If approved, the trail would cost around $7.8 million.
In January, RDOS directors declined, stating their main focus has always been on an upper trail located on the old KVR Rail site. The rail will soon be the property of the Penticton Indian Band, which indicated it would be open to negotiations.
Area F (West Bench) director Michael Brydon, who led the charge at the January meeting against the partnership, flip-flopped on Thursday asking for the board to reverse its decision and at least remain neutral for the moment. Since that meeting, Penticton MLA Dan Ashton has spoken with directors. As well, Trails of the Okanagan, was not consulted and would like to make a presentation at an upcoming meeting.
“This is not a trails project, but rather a highway project. We have just seen two cars go in the lake recently. Let’s not rule ourselves out of this project,” Brydon said.
“Let’s hold off and let Mr. Ashton do his magic in Victoria.”
Area D (Kaleden, Apex, Okanagan Falls) director Tom Siddon said a study would do
very little to benefit his constituents. He noted there’s rumours and speculation that Highway 97 from Summerland to Penticton could be reconfigured due to concerns with the dry cliffs above, hence the offer to install a bike lane.
Keremeos mayor Manfred Bauer said the debate was redundant noting all of the arguments were made at a previous meeting.
“The No. 1 priority is the KVR trail and Penticton and Summerland will be double-dipping,” he said in reference to both municipalities having to pay twice.
Penticton director Andre Martin suggested that money for the study should be set aside in the budget if in the event the RDOS decides to commit to its share of the study. Martin was the lone dissenting vote in January against not committing to the study.
Summerland Mayor Peter Waterman noted he still doesn’t fully understand the funding requirements. Both Summerland and Penticton have yet to commit to the study and, like the RDOS, are remaining neutral for the moment.
Directors voted unanimously in favour of retracting its non-support for the project and will make a final decision at a later date.