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. Now there is a chance to say thanks and give back in the first fundraising campaign since our communities donated to build the trail.
Kilometre Zero is the northern gateway to the Okanagan Rail Trail, and the place to leave the roadways behind.
The name 'Sunflower Campaign' is symbolic of the joy of our spring wildflowers and the hope that comes from planting for the future. Donations will help restore the beautiful Arrowleaf Balsamroot and other native plants to honour the natural environment of the Kalamalka Lake shoreline and to welcome visitors and trail users to learn more. These iconic wildflowers, called smúkwaʔxn by the Okanagan indigenous people, have an important place in Syilx culture, and indigenous knowledge will be used to help plan for the site and the stories.
A first phase towards a signature gateway.
Last fall we were excited to share a concept plan for a signature gateway at the north end of the rail trail. With a plaza, hilltop viewpoint, interpretive structures, public art, and indigenous gardens, Kilometre Zero was on track to be the first fundraising campaign and a showpiece public space.
No one expected a global pandemic, and plans were put on hold.
Now we are going back to basics to focus on the first phase of site development while our communities focus on getting through these challenging times. Grants from Okanagan Basin Water Board, the RDNO Trails and Natural Spaces Grant, and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (through Ribbons of Green Trails Society) will help us start out, and your donations can make the work go further.
Thank you to the agencies and collaborators helping to establish green infrastructure at the head of the Okanagan Rail Trail!
When the northernmost .5km of the rail trail was completed to College Way in fall 2019, funding allowed for minimal finishing of trailside areas. Without further work, steep side slopes will erode and disturbed areas will become weedy.
The northern trail entry areas remain a priority:
Trail gateways set the stage for the trail experience.
The Kalamalka section of rail trail is environmentally significant and sensitive, and used by thousands of trail users per year.
The area of “K’ək’maplqs”, or ‘Little Head of the Lake’ is significant to the Syilx indigenous people, and the Okanagan Indian Band is an important partner in planning for the site and the stories to be shared.
Phase One will create the foundation for overall site development guided by the Kilometre Zero Concept Plan. The initial focus is on establishing the site’s ‘green infrastructure’ through naturescaping and plants important to the Syilx people.
As the first ‘gateway’ development along the Okanagan Rail Trail, ‘lessons learned’ will benefit other parts of the Okanagan Rail Trail, other trails and natural spaces in RDNO, and local residents who might like to try ‘naturescaping’ in their own yards.
Plant the seeds for this Signature Gateway
$100 will fund 1 square metre of site preparation and planting. This will include site shaping, soil amendments, plant and seed acquisition and planting, cultural research, storytelling and nature interpretation.
Every donation of $100 or more will have the opportunity to share a message of gratitude on the Okanagan Rail Trail Kilometre Zero Sunflower Supporters page (below). This might be the place to share your message of thanks for the people or places helping you get through the Covid crisis.