Little Tunnel

The KVR Rail Trail from Penticton to Little Tunnel is one of the most spectacular Okanagan trails, climbing past Naramata’s numerous vineyards and providing an incredible panorama as you reach Little Tunnel, above.

Dear Editor: J.P. Squire’s Oct. 24 column commented on the poor condition of the KVR Trail in many areas. It referenced the lack of maintenance between Chute Lake and Bellevue Trestle, although that condition exists in many places along the trail, especially near road access points such as those south of Kelowna.

Squire flagged the B.C. government’s Ministry of Forests July 2020 contract, which was issued to upgrade both surfacing and ditching necessary to maintain the long term usability and structural integrity of the KVR Trail. This work has not yet begun. Will contract penalties apply? Can the work now be effectively completed given recent snowfalls?

Certainly “heavy maintenance” on the KVR with attention to targeted and locally problematic areas is necessary. This is linked to growing use of vehicles in the trail, including heavy duty pickup trucks, assorted off-road vehicles, and trail motorcycles.

The underlying question is whether a former railbed is actually suitable for accommodating use by assorted lugged and tracked vehicles, especially given the evident and insufficient capacity to manage and ensure appropriate, sustainable use both on the KVR and adjacent habitat areas.

For example, destructive “mud bogging” occurs in wetlands adjacent to the KVR, despite signed prohibitions.

Another concern is the low level of resourcing available for trail management activities, including monitoring and enforcement. When the KVR was an active railway, maintenance included ditching and adding materials to harden the railbed. My understanding is that such investment is inadequate at present.

To ensure the long-term recreational capability of the KVR, reconsideration and management of appropriate uses are necessary. This will require identifying recreational uses that are both suitable and sustainable.

This will entail both clear conditions of use, adequate maintenance funding, active communication and adequate field capacity to manage both use of the trail and associated outdoor recreation sites.

The KVR is a well-known, but undervalued and under-resourced tourism attraction in the Okanagan-Boundary region. Cycle-camping tourists one meets along the trail regularly claim the trail is “not as advertised” and “needs work” before they will return or advise others to make a trip here.

Let’s hope that enhanced attention and investment in the management and use of the KVR will sustain its capacity and appeal as a local, regional and international tourism resource.

Denis O’Gorman, Penticton

OAS: 61 cents more, how insulting, Justin

Dear Editor: Our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said he is going to look after seniors. I see how he is doing this. On Oct. 28, we received our OAS pension and it had an increase of 61 cents. I find this very disappointing — in fact insulting. The last increase we had in the OAS was one year ago and was in the $6 range. I know I won't be voting for the Liberals come next election.

George Rosen, Kelowna

Trudeau playing politics with homeless

Dear Editor: The Daily Courier reported the Liberals are dispersing $500 million to purchase property to house the homeless (Oct. 28). Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen, from York-South Weston in Toronto, is in charge of the project.

The Canadian Press article goes on to state that Toronto will receive $203 million of the $500 million in the next few days and that the rest of $300 million is up for grabs and will be shared 14 other cities.

An online article also states that Montreal and Vancouver will each receive approximately $50 million or one-quarter the share.

Jenny Kwan from Vancouver has written to the minister and quoted some more disturbing facts. 

Since 2016, the federal government has distributed a total of $1.47 billion for homeless housing, of which Toronto received a staggering $1.34 billion or 91.1%.

In the same period of time, Vancouver has received 0.5% of the total funding or a total of $7.4 million. Please note the scale change — a billion is 1,000 million (let’s not do an Al Gore here.)

To what should we assume is the reason for this largess?

This past Monday, Toronto had  byelections in which two Liberals just squeaked by. Did this housing announcement influence the ridings?

Or perhaps the fact that the WE foundation is trying to flog $50 million worth of property that the charity was holding (instead of giving to the needy) and is in need of a buyer. The timing is very strange and accountability is certainly not the strength of our dear prime minister, King Justin.

It is outrageous that the Liberals have funded support for the homeless in such a biased manner.  How can they possibly support giving Vancouver, with its incredible tent cities and social problems, a total of $7.4 million (0.5%) while at the same time giving $1.34 billion to Toronto? A slightly outdated study (homelesshub.ca/SOHC2016) indicates that the actual number of homeless in Vancouver is approximately 0.27% of the population, while in Toronto, it is only 0.19% of the population (from 2012/13).

How can the Liberal government justify this funding discrepancy (0.5% to Vancouver, 91.1% to Toronto). 

Or is this just another reason why, according to JPC, we should be electing Liberals here in B.C. if we want any funding at all?

Alan Nichols, Kelowna