Pleasing view

The Okanagan Rail Trail, a scenic stretch of which along Kalamalka Lake is shown here, will be directly connected to the Predator Ridge Resort and Sparkling Hill Resort with a new 1.3 km link that has received $210,000 in government funding.

The Predator Ridge Resort and Sparkling Hill Resort will be directly connected to the Okanagan Rail Trail via a 1.3-km path that has received $210,000 in government funding.

The grant, confirmed Thursday, will include a cycling and pedestrian underpass below Highway 97 south of Vernon.

Funding is being provided as part of $20 million announced for improvements to tourism-infrastructure across B.C.

Such spending will help in the economic recovery from COVID-19, the government says, and better position the province for visitors when widespread tourism begins again.

"Investing in community-based tourism infrastructure not only creates good-paying jobs, it also helps to rebuild this hard-hit industry and ensures B.C.'s reputation as a world-class travel destination remains strong," Tourism Minister Melanie Mark said in a Thursday release.

Directors of Predator Ridge, an upscale golf and residential community, made a pitch for a connection to the Rail Trail in a 2019 letter to the City of Vernon.

"Although Predator Ridge is in close proximity to the Okanagan Rail Trail geographically, safe accessibility via the current road systems for self-guided tours is not in place," resort vice-president Brad Pelletier wrote.

"Our goals parallel those of the City of Vernon, and a real opportunity exists to link us to the Okanagan Rail Trail and the city," Pelletier said.

While it's best known for golf, Predator Ridge is also enhancing its cycling opportunities, with 35 km of multi-use recreation paths on its property, the addition of electric bikes for rental, and the purchase of shuttles that can carry visitors and their bikes.

Sparkling Hill Resort is a health and wellness retreat founded by crystal magnate Gernot Langes-Swarvoski.

The only other Okanagan-related grant in the funding announcement is $834,000 for the Osoyoos Desert Centre. It will be used to replace the existing, 22-year-old elevated boardwalk trail that carries visitors across part of a 67-acre environmentally protected area.

Visitors to the centre can learn about desert ecology, habitat restoration, and conservation of endangered animals and ecosystems in the South Okanagan.