Life has returned to a pocket of Kelowna that was once just a gravel pit.
Munson Pond Park is tucked behind a retirement home, in the northwest of the corner KLO and Benvoulin roads. It’s home to a seven-member family of otters, countless birds and, lately, it’s been busy with outdoor enthusiasts keen on walking through newly constructed trails that offer a bird’s eye view of diverse wetlands.
All of this is a far cry from four years ago, when it was just the remnants of the gravel pitt used in 1958 to build the first bridge across Okanagan Lake and some derelict farmland.
At that time City of Kelowna staff had an idea that it could be more and approached the Central Okanagan Land Trust to see if they could help renaturalize the space, turn it from an industrial setting and move it into a publicly usable park, while making sure the environmental values were maintained, said Wayne Wilson, of the land trust at a Sunday event unveilling the work that’s been completed.
“So, we worked out a conservation covenant on the south side of that property and went forward from there and it was my job as the executive director to find the funding where we could see it forward,” Wilson said, adding Eco Action Canada came out with a significant amount of grant funding to get the work done.
Much of it has also been done by volunteers, and that’s why Wilson and other members of the land trust team wanted to hold an event to give thanks and mark its opening.
“The people from Starbucks have been out here with their spouses and their kids every spring and fall for three years. Kelowna Christian school had hundreds of kids out here over the years,” said Wilson, gesturing to the crowds of people who were planting seedlings and pulling weeds.
Among their ranks were Samson and MacKenzie Sharpe — the latter of which is a manager at a local Starbucks. He’s been to all six revitalization sessions, while his three-year-old counterpart had been to just three, on account of his age.
The Earth Day event that allowed them to see the completion of their efforts was a great satisfaction.
Going forward, they’re going to be a part of something that brought life to the valley, between stands of cottonwoods and the various sub ecosystems. Mapping of the life in the spot will allow them, and everyone else in the valley, to know exactly what has been added.
Already, said Wilson, is the new otter family. There’s no telling what’s to come.
To help ensure the lands are protected in the future, the Land Trust has created the Munson Pond endowment fund. So far $11,000 of $25,000 has been raised. The interest from the funds will be used for maintenance.