An outdoor recreation group is feeling cautiously optimistic about the potential for a new multi-use trail along the west side of Vaseux Lake.

Members of the Trail of the Okanagans Society discussed the matter last week with officials from Recreation Sites and Trails BC and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, plus Boundary-Similkameen MLA Roly Russell and Osoyoos Coun. Myers Bennett.

Of interest is a 6 1/2-kilometre section of the former KVR rail bed on the west side of the lake, which is being eyed as key piece of the proposed Trail of the Okanagans.

“A 2019 environmental review of the area commissioned by RSTBC determined that the existing rail bed adjacent to Vaseux Lake can be used for that purpose as long as the habitat on either side of the trail is protected with mitigation efforts identified in the report,” said Janice Liebe, president of the Trail of the Okanagan Society, in a press release.

“This is a very exciting development and one that has been a long time in the making. It has taken considerable effort on the part of government and volunteer groups over the last decade to get to this point. Everyone at the meeting was onboard and excited to see this initiative move forward to the next stage.”

Liebe said the parties committed to working together to develop a plan for construction work, mitigation and public consultation, and to meeting again in the fall to discuss it further.

The society’s end goal is a 370-kilometre trail, suitable for hiking and biking, running from Sicamous to Brewster, Wash., and spanning the entire Okanagan Valley lake and river system.

While the route is nearly complete in the Central and North Okanagan, there are still major gaps in the South Okanagan, most notably around Vaseux Lake and between Penticton and Summerland.