A local push to have Ellison Provincial Park expanded with the purchase of the neighbouring Chelsea Estate lands appears to be dead in the water, but Vernon-Monashee’s MLA says she’s hopeful about other opportunities to enhance public green spaces.
The 234-acre estate, identified as one of the last remaining large waterfront properties on Okanagan Lake, is currently listed as sold. The buyer remains anonymous, but BC Parks and the City of Vernon both said they’re not involved in the purchase.
Harwinder Sandhu said she was disappointed to learn of the sale to a private buyer. The Vernon-Monashee MLA said Wednesday (April 28) she had worked with BC Parks to consider purchasing up to three of the 11 Chelsea Estate land parcels, and had raised the topic with Premier John Horgan on several occasions.
“While this is not the outcome many had hoped for, it is completely within the seller’s right to sell the land to whomever they please,” she said, adding she hopes the community will respect the buyers’ privacy.
Despite the land sale, Sandhu said there will be much to look forward to where public parks are concerned, at a time when outdoor recreation is more needed than ever during the pandemic.
“I am very excited about our government’s recently announced increased investments into our incredible Provincial Park system,” she said. “There will be more campsites and infrastructure added across the province and additional personnel working at park sites so that everyone can get out and enjoy the beauty that B.C. has to offer.”
On that note, Ellison Park is slated for some upgrades this summer.
BC Parks is working to bring some improvements to the existing Ellison trail network off Eastside Road. Plans for a bike park and trail upgrades are outlined in an April 23 request for proposals by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
The work is expected to be completed in full by June 24, 2021. Work will include trail repaving, post and rail fence construction, chain-link and barbed wire fence removal, water service connection and 425 square metres of earthworks for the bike park.
The bike park will be located at the upper trailhead along Eastside Road, while the trail upgrades will be done closer to the main parking area at the end of Ellison Park Road.
It’s unknown if additional parking will be implemented, something a local cyclist and politician would like to see.
Coun. Brian Quiring has asked Mayor Victor Cumming to write a letter to BC Parks to review the amount of parking and see if they can provide a solution.
“Especially during this pandemic, more people are out,” Quiring told Vernon council Monday, April 26. “There’s not enough parking there.”
Vehicles are often seen lined up on both sides of the road, but unless they are causing a safety issue, Quiring also urges bylaw officials not to ticket them.
Proposals will be accepted until 4 p.m. on May 18 for the Ellison upgrades. A site meeting will be held Tuesday, May 4.