Rail trail

People walk along an abandoned railway bridge in Oyama in this file photo from 2014. The corridor is now a popular long-distance recreation path stretching from Vernon to Kelowna.

The Kettle Valley Railway and the Trans-Canada Highway each have Mile Zeros.

Soon, if enough community-minded supporters agree, the Okanagan will have a Kilometre Zero.

Efforts are underway to raise money for a recognizable and distinctive formal starting point for the Okanagan Rail Trail, a popular 49-km-long recreation path that stretches from south of Vernon to downtown Kelowna.

Concept plans include a public plaza, a sculpture, hilltop lookout, and Indigenous gardens near the intersection of College Way and Kalamalka Lake Road in Coldstream.

The $100,000 fundraising drive was announced earlier this year but was put on hold because of the pandemic. It's now been re-launched.

"These past few months have highlighted the importance of the rail trail to our communities," Laurie Postill of the group Friends of the Okanagan Rail Trail said Tuesday. "We would be thrilled to see donor support for the complete concept plan."

The ongoing pandemic has underscored the need for people to get outside and exercise while maintaining physical distancing from others, FORT says.

"This year like never before we have needed the Okanagan Rail Trail. The open spaces allow us to stay safely active, and nature soothes our soul," the group says on its website.

The abandoned railway line was bought from CN was by the federal and provincial governments, but almost $8 million was subsequently raised from more than 5,000 donors to actually convert the corridor into a popular and scenic long-distance recreation path. More than 24 kilometres of the trail is along the shore of lakes.

Mile Zero on the Kettle Valley Railway is in the town of Midway, the eastern terminus of the railway that was built across Southern B.C. in the early 1900s.

Victoria boasts Mile Zero on the Trans-Canada Highway. St. John's, Newfoundland, 8,000 kilometres away from Victoria, calls its easternmost section of the national highway Mile One.