A group of Carr’s Landing residents have banded together to ensure Gable Beach remains accessible to the public.
The residents, calling themselves The Friends of Carr’s Landing Public Beaches, are concerned the district is considering selling the beach access to three property owners with homes that front on the beach area, which runs north from the end of the Gable Road boat launch.
Cara Reed, a Carr’s Landing resident, says the idea of public beach access being sold is something taxpayers in Lake Country should stand in opposition against.
“We have 45 kilometres of lakefront access in Lake Country and only six kilometres of that is in public hands,” said Reed.
“So these access points are precious not only to the public, but for fire and emergency response access, from the wildlife side of things and just generally for our environment.”
Reed believes the district should be looking to enhance limited public access to local lakeshore and not selling them to private landowners to benefit their own property values and privacy.
Reed said she met with Mayor James Baker and asked if she could unequivocally tell her neighbours that Gable Beach was not for sale, and the mayor advised her not to make such a statement at this time.
Group members have since been told via email by Alberto De Feo, Lake Country’s chief administrative officer, that legally the district can’t disclose any information regarding potential land acquisition or disposition until such deals come before council for approval.
Adding to the concern is the appearance of survey markings along the beach. While Reed says she has been told by the surveyor it is to prepare the land for sale, another resident told The Calendar the orange land markings are meant to re-establish what the high water mark is for the lake after last spring’s flooding.
Reed says the uncertainty has created concern about the fate of the beach, which currently has no signage of its existence.
While many are unaware of the beach access point, the land has been subject to several lawsuits dating back to 1910 in which adjacent property owners have sought legal title to the beach property and not been successful.
Marie Molloy said she and her husband purchased their Carr’s Landing home 13 years ago in part because of the accessibility of Gable Beach.
“(Okanagan Lake) is part of the soul of Lake Country. It is what puts the ‘lake’ in Lake Country. When we come down here, that is what we are connecting with,” said Molloy.
“Why would we want to sell that? Why do we want to turn this into a privately-owned waterfront property for people who are rarely here, that remains vacant and nobody can enjoy it. It’s my hope this beach remains open to the public in whatever form that might take.”
Molloy added that conflict between public access and adjacent private property owners along the lakefront has been evident along Gable Beach as it has in other communities fronting on Okanagan Lake.
“It’s the unfortunate downside of privatization of lakefront properties, but one day my husband was walking our dog along (Gable Beach) and a private property owner actually flung a chair from her deck onto the back lawn as he was walking by, and he has been sneered at on different occasions,” Molloy said.
Pat Iwaskow, who lives between Carr’s Landing and Commonage Roads, said she wasn’t aware of Gable Beach’s existence until recently, arguing that public access to local lakefront beaches should be preserved and not sold off.
“Before we didn’t have much opportunity to use this space as it was kind of hidden from us. We need more transparency on that as these spaces benefit the entire community,” Iwaskow said.
Members of The Friends Of Carr’s Landing Beaches were planning to make a presentation at Lake Country council last night, and hosted a picnic at Gable Beach on Monday “to enjoy and celebrate our community at our beautiful public beach.”