Letter: Abbott/Walnut waterfront a mess of old houses 20 years on

When the last home was purchased in 1997, the only obstacle was to remove the homes to open up approximately 900 feet of lakefront.

To the editor:

The success of the Kelowna Paddle Centre on Abbot Street is a great example of the growing demand for enjoyment along our lakefront. Meanwhile, thousands of other residents who walk, run or bike along the Abbott/Walnut street waterfront must compete with cars and congestion. The lake view and potential open space they could enjoy is blocked by seven tired, city-owned rental homes. The roadway is not exactly a memorable or relaxing experience but nonetheless it’s heavily used year round. It could be so much better.

For nine years between 1989  to 1997, when our city was less than half its current population and a dollar was worth much more, taxpayers willingly funded the $3.9 million needed to acquire a long stretch of waterfront between Newsom Avenue and Meikle Avenue. The city’s vision was to create a large new waterfront park. When the last home was purchased in 1997, the only remaining obstacle was to remove the rental homes to open up approximately 900 feet of lakefront.

Almost 20 years have since passed but the city keeps telling us they have other priorities. We are also told it will be at least ten10 more years before funding can even be considered. Are they serious? The cost to remove seven homes and tidy things up should be a routine expense for a growing city of our size.

It’s not so much that the good people from the paddle club feel the need to defend their gift. It’s the fact that the city funded the costs to provide fencing, private parking, a large clubhouse and the use of about one-third of the zoned parkland while the rest of Kelowna residents are being told they must wait another decade for park funding.

I doubt that money is the obstacle. It’s everyone on council. Not one elected person has shown the fortitude to stray from the pack and bring forward a debate about what really might be going on behind the scenes.

Michael Neill, Kelowna