Kelowna residents walk the beach to protest shoreline barriers

Around 250 Kelowna residents walked the city's foreshore of Okanagan Lake from City Park, south to Gyro Beach in hopes of removing walls, fences and docks that block access to the water.

250 people walk Okanagan Lake's shore in hopes of removing walls, fences, docks that block access to water

Residents in Kelowna do not want residents who own property along Okanagan Lake to block off access to the foreshore like some have with walls and fences like these. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Around 250 Kelowna residents walked the city's shoreline on Okanagan Lake Sunday in a protest aimed at removing barriers that block access to the water.

"This is a friendly walk to bring awareness to the fact that a lot of the foreshore that is to be passable, is not passable now because of some fences built out into the water, some docks," said one of the walk organizers, Brenda Bachmann.

The foreshore is the part of the shoreline which lies between the high-water and low-water marks.

Over the years, waterfront homeowners have built docks, walls and fences on their properties to enhance their access to the lake and prevent others from walking in front of their residences along the shore.

About 250 people walked a four-kilometre route along Okanagan Lake's shoreline Sunday. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Walk organizer Al Janusas pointed out a home built a few years ago.

"They put this gigantic barricade blocking themselves off from this beach access," Janusas said.

Those who participated in the walk gathered at Kelowna City Park and headed south along the shore to Gyro Beach.

This past spring, flooding on Lake Okanagan destroyed many of those docks, walls and fences.

Some people said it time to review how these structures are built to ensure they conform to provincial and municipal laws.

The image on left shows a dock on Okanagan Lake in December 2016, and the image on right showing the same dock from June 6, 2017, partially destroyed by rising waters. (PlanKelowna/Facebook)

Provincial permits are required to build docks, but City of Kelowna officials say a permit isn't needed to build a fence. However, the city does encourage residents to report fences that are encroaching beyond the natural boundaries of properties.

The area up to the high-water mark on Okanagan Lake is considered provincial property, so the public should be able to walk along that beach unobstructed. 

Local officials say the swift pace of development along Kelowna's waterfront is making it difficult to keep up with all the changes homeowners are making along the beach.

Al Janusas was one of the organizers of the Walk the Beach event. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Meanwhile, participants at the walk hope to make it an annual event.

"Oh I'm proud of us," said Clare McManus who walked on Sunday. "Civic action is very important, so it's nice to see so many people get together and maybe we'll get some action."

with files from Brady Strachan.