The provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is conducting a study examining the feasibility of expanding a lakeside pathway between Summerland and Penticton.
Trevor Demerse, district engineer in training with the ministry, said the study will examine the project, including the cost and design of the trail.
A year ago, the first phase of the trail, a 1.3-kilometre segment, was completed, linking Lowertown with Trout Creek.
The path is two metres wide and runs adjacent to Highway 97, between Lakeshore Drive and Landry Crescent. It had a cost of $730,000.
The second phase of the trail would extend from Trout Creek to Penticton.
Don Gemmell, founding director of the lakeside trail project, said approximately seven kilometres of new construction would be required.
The rest of the distance would pass through small park areas, a truck pullout and the Red Wing development north of Penticton.
Gemmell would like to see the trail work done at the same time as upgrade work takes place on Highway 97.
“Part of this is a highway widening project,” he said. “Transportation is not just about cars.”
He added that a much longer multi-use pathway, extending throughout the Okanagan Valley, could serve as a benefit to tourism in the region.
According to his estimates, a trail network could bring in $50 million a year as cycling tourists would use it to travel between the Okanagan communities.
A similar trail network in Oregon has brought $57 million a year to that region.
“Why shouldn’t we invest in a cycle tourism economy?” he said. “We will benefit from it.”He added that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has already met with officials from Summerland, Penticton, the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen and the Penticton Indian Band.
“This project is breaking down barriers between communities and levels of government,” he said.