To the editor:
The vision of a long and narrow linear park along Abbott Street where Cedar Avenue meets the lake was first created somewhere back in the 1980s.
Over the years that followed, the city purchased the 11 contiguous waterfront residential lots needed.
One of the homes was demolished a few years ago and a chain link fence presently keeps the public out of this vacant property.
The remaining lots have eight aging homes that the city has rented out for many years.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the line the vision of a park was lost.
In 2005, the city removed any references to future park and instead changed the Official Community Plan to designate this waterfront for commercial and high density residential development.
In 2011, myself and a small group of concerned citizens organized meetings and then held a highly publicized rally to convince the city to restate the original park plan.
Sadly, and despite overwhelming public support, in the spring of 2011 council deferred any decision. Shortly thereafter, several new councillors and a new mayor were elected, and since then nothing has happened.
Recently, an excellent letter from Bob and Rachel Whitehead was published detailing the benefits of the park and how it would compliment the rapidly growing Pandosy area.
However, they should recall that our current mayor was a major supporter of rezoning the land from park to commercial when he was mayor in 2005.
As such, I am not optimistic that our present council will make any decision on the area until a developer comes forward with a commercial or residential proposal.
Leaving the area in its present state ensures that public does not recognize the amazing beauty that exists along the 900 feet of narrow waterfront land.
When a development plan does come forward, the city will proudly announce that a popular but dilapidated area of our lakefront will finally be improved.
The land the city long ago purchased for park will be sold for development. Mission complete.
The public needs to get involved now rather than wait for a development proposal to come forward.
My recommendation is to encourage the city to remove all eight homes that are currently being rented.
A simple, long and narrow open green space with existing magnificent trees could be opened up for the citizens to enjoy today.
Many thousands of people pass this area year round. A small city expenditure, that needs to happen regardless, could allow us to enjoy what I argue would evolve into one of the most popular public waterfronts in Kelowna.
If I am wrong on that assumption, then a suitable development proposal could still proceed with public support.
Meantime, the families growing up today can enjoy what has been unnecessarily hidden from us for two decades. Let’s encourage council to finally finish what was started a long time ago.