What started as a public outcry to retain public beach access ultimately led to the election of a new Carr’s Landing councillor this year in Lake Country.
Cara Reed, along with other members in the Carr’s Landing neighbourhood, formed the Friends of Gable Beach association, and they put the pressure on council to retain land that was proposed for sale near Gable Beach Road end.
Reed, who was sworn in along with her fellow councillors in November, said she originally didn’t intend to run for council, but the Carr’s Landing community continued to ask her.
She said the Gable Beach issue was like her resume which gave her visibility in the community.
“(It) was like a really long, intense, job interview,” she said.
Reed was at the forefront of the issue, advocating with other Carr’s Landing residents to keep parts of land near Gable Beach Road end within the district when council tried to sell it in order to pay off Kelowna’s investment in Lake Country rail trail lands.
The need to raise $2.6 million to reduce Kelowna’s interest in Lake Country’s portion of the rail trail drove the potential sale of Gable Beach.
The district purchased the rail trail lands through its borders at a cost of $5.2 million, a contentious purchase that went to the public twice in 2015.
First, an Alternate Approval Process failed before the district went to a full referendum, which passed in April of 2015.
Lake Country was able to borrow $2.6 million and Kelowna jumped in with the other $2.6, with the understanding the money would be paid back within three years or interest would start to accrue.
Enter Gable Beach and the potential sale of the land to three home-owners in the area this year.
When Lake Country purchased the rail trail, a proposal was created to sell excess lands on the old CN right-of-way, to make up the $2.6 million.
There was also scepticism from those opposed.
The entire rail trail was purchased from CN Rail for $22 million between Kelowna, Lake Country, Coldstream, the North Okanagan Regional District and the Okanagan Indian Band, who joined the inter-jurisdiction team after first attempting to block the sale, saying CN Rail had an agreement to return OKIB its traditional land.
Reed earned 183 votes to former Coun. Jeanette Lambert’s 65 and will continue to advocate for public waterfront access going forward as a councillor, she said.
Public waterfront access remains an ongoing issue in the Central Okanagan, especially in Kelowna.
Protestors for the last two years have walked the foreshore to show that some lakefront property owners have not been following the law, restricting public access for the foreshore.
Kelowna’s protests and issues were seen as an incentive for Lake Country residents to keep as much of the foreshore accessible to the community as possible.