A 20-year management plan for Mission Creek Regional Park is expected to come with a $3 million price tag for park development and asset renewal costs.
While the plan outlines a direction for future park development and management, it will also require partnerships with other stakeholders, such as Westbank First Nation and Community Recreation Initiatives Society, to meet the growing challenge of expanded park amenities, services and access to existing park green spaces.
The 92-hectare park located in the heart of the City of Kelowna draws visitors from across the Central Okanagan Regional District.
In a summary from Murray Kopp, director of regional park services, said the population of the Central Okanagan by 2040 is expected to increase by 38 per cent to 227,000 people.
“The population growth will present challenges and opportunities for the development and overall management of Mission Creek Regional Park,” said Kopp.
Prepared by BENCH Site Design, the management plan identifies several key objectives for park improvements over the next two decades:
East Park Redesign
Identified as an under-utilized portion of the park adjacent to Springfield Road and east of the existing playground, the proposal is to expand the site parking lot and add covered seating, plaza, picnic shelter, large lawn and nature obstacle course, which is already under construction.
Gathering and education place
An outdoor gathering area built next to the south side of the Environmental Education Centre of the Okanagan (EECO), would create a place to facilitate First Nations programs and enhance the outdoor education experience.
Cottonwood Forest Conservation
A patch of cottonwood trees located in the western corner of the park is one of the few remaining examples of a native Mission Creek floodplain ecosystem.
To conserve this area, trails in the area would be decommissioned and a viewing platform built in the adjacent Sutherland Hills area.
Sutherland Hills Education Zone
To preserve critical wildlife habitat in this area, decommission redundant trails to increase patch size, manage invasive plant species, enhance existing habitat, construct viewing platforms and develop access barriers to keep people on sanctioned trails.
Hall Road parking area
To encourage more park visitors to this area, build a parking area off of Hall Road in the southwestern tip of the park.
Highly disturbed and greatly impacted by the western pine beetle attack that took place in mid-2000, also targeted for this area would be ecological restoration and invasive plant species efforts.
The parking area expansion would include a picnic shelter, three washroom stalls, a water fill station, a vehicle entrance gate and up to 27 parking stalls.
Fishing pond improvements
For the fishing pond off of Hall Road in Sutherland Hills: improve presentation area at road-level for education programs, install two accessible fishing platforms, manage pond vegetation and consider improving fish habitat.
Would also include formal designation of existing parking at the pond area as accessible parking only.
Uplands walking area
The eastern portion of Sutherland Hills is a ponderosa pine forest with a network of multi-use trails.
To improve wayfinding would include clarifying trail circulation, decommissioning redundant trails, implementing a unified signage strategy and place benches at a strategic location.
Streamside walking loop
To enhance the greenway trail loop to the kokanee spawning channel, create more educational opportunities, improve the spawning channel by building viewing platforms, adding fencing to keep visitors out of the spawning channel and enhancing kokanee salmon habitat where possible.
Cliffside erosion control area
A landslide occurred in March 2019 on the southwest slope of the park’s spawning channel.
As a result, several trails were swept away. This area is closed to the public and needs to remain so.
To limit rogue access to unstable slopes, the plan calls for the decommission of trails that lead to this area, and uses permanent fencing and signage to indicate this area off-limits and increase enforcement.
New greenway connection
Currently, a portion of the Greenway runs through a residential neighbourhood along Creekside Road, between Graham and Gerstmar roads. To enable a Greenway connection through the park as an alternative to the current construction along Creekside Road, park access would be enabled with a new Gerstmar Bridge over Mission Creek, upgrade the Ziprick parking lot and resurface the trail to meet current trail standards.
East Arm conservation area
The terrain in the east arm of the park has high erosion potential, so to conserve this nature area and for public safety, the plan recommends existing trail be decommissioned and the area off-limits to park users.
Overall trail and circulation plan
To enhance the park user experience and preserve the park for the future, establish a clear hierarchy of trails to aid wayfinding and anticipate trail users’ desire lines.
Wayfinding can be improved by developing and implementing a park-wide unified signage strategy, eliminate redundant trails and ensure trail surfaces meet park standards with benches at strategic locations and waste receptacles at trailheads.
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