A couple of mule deer stopped and listened with great interest as regional district chairman Robert Hobson talked about the importance of the latest addition to West Kelowna’s regional parks Thursday morning.
He felt they should be delighted that the 13.86-hectare piece of property on either side of Powers Creek had been protected in its natural state for them to live on.
As well, though, he admitted that people who want to get out into natural areas to hike with their families will also be pretty pleased with this $1.8 million acquisition funded through the Regional Parks Legacy Fund.
Efforts to include this piece of Reese family property in Glen Canyon Regional Park, which straddles Powers Creek, have been underway for decades—a vision of the founders of the Gellatly Bay Trails and Parks Society, as well as those who are members today.
This, along with an adjacent donation of 3.62 hectares by a developer and strata council announced a few weeks ago, fills in some major gaps in the creekside trail corridor which begins at the fish ladders on Gellatly Road, at the bottom of the hill. Now you’ll be able to hike right through to downtown Westbank, crossing the creek at the imposing Powers Creek Falls Bridge, deep in the canyon below the busy commercial area and Westbank Town Centre Park.
However, it won’t actually be open to the public until spring next year, to allow the connecting trail to be designed and built this year.
West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater, a long-time resident of the area, noted there are a lot of memories in his community of the Powers Creek corridor. It’s a major creek that supplies irrigation and drinking water to the community, he noted.
Ultimately, he said the goal is to include creekside property all the way from Glenrosa to the waterfront, on both sides of Highway 97, and there are still a few gaps in that vision.
Kelowna Coun. Carol Zanon said they’re not finished yet creating new parkland in the new municipality.
“We’ve had an explosion in growth, but we’re trying to save land for parks,” she commented.
Following the official announcement on the banks of the muddy, swirling creek, Sheri Sweet of regional parks took a group on a bit of a tour of the property, pointing out the varied flora and fauna along the way, including some obliging deer.
The project is part of a $9.1 million fund accumulated over the past five years from residents throughout the region.
This year alone, Hobson noted, the district has announced the addition of more than 37 hectares of land with almost $8.3 million, and another 800 hectares was added through the regional district’s partnership with the Central Okanagan Land Trust, to create the Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park.