Historic collaboration paves way to enhanced services

The Okanagan Indian Band, District of Lake Country and City of Kelowna today announced agreement on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will pave the way toward building important health, safety and infrastructure improvements, including completion of the Okanagan Rail Trail.

Staff discussions among the three neighbours over many months have resulted in an agreement to move toward resolving infrastructure needs.  Some preliminary work is already underway on agreements to overcome historical jurisdictional challenges.

“We are pleased to have agreed on a path forward with the City of Kelowna and the District of Lake Country on several long-standing issues,” said Byron Louis, Chief of the Okanagan Band. “Improvements to water and wastewater on IR#7 will ensure a safe water supply and reduce septic pollution while road improvements will increase safety and pave the way for economic development opportunities. We look forward to working with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to accomplish the road improvements.”

Working within the spirit of the agreement, all parties are committed to meeting the following goals:

OKIB Objectives:

  • the opportunity for water and sewer services to existing properties and availability of servicing for future developments,
  • a road access to a parcel of land on the east side of Duck Lake, and
  • an Addition to Reserve for the Okanagan Rail Trail corridor.

Lake Country Objectives:

  • to have Commonwealth Road opened as an arterial access to Jim Bailey Road from Highway 97 to address capacity issues on Beaver Lake Road,
  • to complete the Okanagan Rail Trail,
  • to secure interim sewer servicing from the City of Kelowna,
  • dedication of a road right-of-way north from Beaver Lake Road to the Clearwater/Copperhill subdivision, and
  • a minor boundary adjustment.

City of Kelowna Objectives:

  • to complete the development of the Okanagan Rail Trail,
  • to protect the City’s main sewer line within the rail trail right-of-way through the IR#7,
  • to obtain full access for the industrial lands via Commonwealth Road, and
  • water supply from Lake Country for the entire neighbourhood.  

The three jurisdictions agree to work together to upgrade Beaver Lake Road to an arterial standard from Highway 97 to Jim Bailey Road.

OKIB has agreed to provide access to the Okanagan Rail Trail once the Government of Canada adds the lands to Reserve. This connection will provide the final link to this important recreational corridor. 

“The result of many months, if not years, of frank discussions and open negotiations is this MOU that sets the stage for specific agreements between each of the three parties on various services, boundary adjustments, and infrastructure improvements,” said Mayor James Baker. “While the details will take time to flesh out for each of the various agreements, there will be significant safety and economic benefits for each community. Working together will also amplify our voice inspiring collaboration and participation from the provincial and federal governments on these important infrastructure projects.”

Over the coming months, the parties will formalize legal agreements to address responsibilities and funding for the various works.  

A key project will be the Commonwealth Road connection between Highway 97 and Jim Bailey Road. The City of Kelowna will lead the process and engage with MOTI to improve this road within the area to handle truck and car traffic. Extensive public consultation with businesses and residents in the area will be coordinated by the City of Kelowna.

“This is an historic agreement that can provide so many improvements to not only the residents and businesses in this area but have positive cultural and economic spin-offs for the entire region,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “The projects touch on everything from reconciliation with our indigenous friends and neighbours, health, safety, environmental protection and active living – all long-standing priorities for the City of Kelowna.”

OKIB Chief Byron Louis, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Lake Country Mayor James Baker will take part in a ceremonial signing event in the near future.