Carrying colourful signs decrying impediments constructed on the foreshore, a group of Kelowna residents walked from City Park to Rotary Beach to raise awareness and create change.
“For many years people have been trying to block access to the foreshore, and people began thinking you couldn’t walk the beach (where there are docks),” Brenda Bachmann, a member of PLANKelowna, said. “So we are bringing awareness to people that you can walk the beach,”
Bachmann told the crowd that as long as they have one foot in the water it’s a public space. Waterfront property extends from the normal high water mark to the lake, and all the space in between is for the province and the public.
Long term residents Dave Harris and Deb Matheson joined dozens of residents as they marched down the foreshore.
“This is public property and there shouldn’t be obstructions,”Harris said. “The shoreline is public property and they are blocking it— either they (the home owners) have too much money or they don’t care.”
The group had to leave the beach side to walk on the street three times to finish their walk due to total obstructions of the foreshore.
“We are really disappointed in what’s happened. By the time our grandkids grow up— it’s become a rich man’s paradise,” Matheson said. “You can’t walk more than a few properties because of the docks and rocks people have put out into the property.”
PLANKelowna says its priorities are:
• Construction of a planned small public park linking Strathcona Beach Park and Royal Avenue Beach Access.
• Repair and improvement of the existing public walkway along the lakeshore north of Maude Roxby Wetland.
• Construction, in a basic form, of the long-awaited lakeshore park near Cedar Avenue, with features added at later dates as budgets allow. The city has owned a row of 12 waterfront properties on the site of the future park for more than 20 years.
• Having the City of Kelowna resume buying properties that are adjacent to existing lakefront parks when they become available. It says costs could be reduced by selling the road-side part of these properties and adding just the lakefront portion of the property to parks.
• Having the city provide, and permanently install, small signs at the high water mark of waterfront properties so beach walkers don’t inadvertently trespass onto private property.
• Completion of the missing sections of the Abbott Street recreation corridor multi-use path, south of the Kelowna General Hospital.
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