Residents walk along Mushroom Beach Sunday as part of the first Walk the Beach event which had them march along the foreshore. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

2017’s Top Stories: Walk the Beach in Kelowna

Docks being built illegally around Okanagan Lake sparked a protest from the community

After this year’s floods destroyed numerous docks in the Okanagan, changes began to take root in Kelowna, pushed by members of the public looking for better beach access.

Docks were seen being rebuilt with stairs, as part of legal standards allowing them to be built along the foreshore.

Community members organized Walk the Beach, an event which aimed to bring awareness to the public’s lack of access to the beach along Okanagan Lake.

Brenda Bachmann, a life-long Kelowna resident, said the beach access being blocked by the extension of docks and fencing, has long been a source of irritation to local residents.

“Someone would get up once in awhile and talk about it and then it would die off,” Bachmann said.

Her initial idea was to walk along the shoreline herself with a camera and film herself confronting the illegal public beach access obstructions; then she opted to simply fly a drone with a camera along the shoreline and film it.

“I really think the drone video online started to generate a lot of interest, and that was prior to the unfortunate flooding that has since taken place,” she said.

“It’s just a horrible thing that people with lakefront property have had to deal with and I am 100 per cent behind them trying to rebuild their docks. All I am saying is why not rebuild it so that’s it’s legal, and save you the time of having to reconstruct it again.”

During the event, she said she would like to see the local MLAs take action.

“Why is it that for decades has this been allowed and why has no one done anything about it?”

The goal with the walk is to bring the issue to light with annual events, said Al Janusas, spokesperson with Pandosy Lakeshore Active Neighbourhoods of Kelowna.

“To that end, we hope there are going to be changes between now and next year and we hope to make this an election issue in the 2018 (city) election.”

He said the event brings public attention to an issue that has been “simmering for decades.”

Janusas would love to see the province enforce the laws that are already in existence with more natural resource officers.

Bachmann presented a letter of support from Mayor Colin Basran at the start of the event, which was held in August.

In June, Basran made a statement during a council meeting calling on the province to deal with the rebuilding of docks, wharves, fences and walls on the lakeshore that will keep beach access open to the public between the high and low lake water marks.

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