Potential sale of public beach on Okanagan Lake prompts backlash, again
'It seems ludicrous, it doesn't seem to make sense'
Controversy over the plan to sell a portion of a public beach in Lake Country is brewing once again.
Last October, the District of Lake Country floated the idea of selling a stretch of Gable Beach on Okanagan Lake to three separate homeowners for $1.34 million. City officials said at the time that the money could be used for the development of the Okanagan Rail Trail.
Matt Vader, manager of strategic and support services with the district, says that after discussions with various community groups, they decided not to go ahead with that plan.
"There was a feeling that using funds from one neighbourhood in Lake Country to another neighbourhood … was not something that they looked favourably upon," Vader said.
But on March 6, city staff will bring another proposal to council, which still involves selling the property, but recommends the funds go toward increasing services at nearby Coral Beach Park.
Cara Reed, a member of a group called Friends of Gable Beach, is opposed to the sale and says the move ignores a petition signed by more than 1,500 people that was submitted to council in November.
"We were shocked, dismayed to find that this is returning to council on the sixth of March with another reason — a completely different reason — for the sale of Gable Beach," Reed said.
Reed is concerned that the public is losing most of the 210 metres of public waterfront at Gable Beach to extend Coral Beach by only 28 metres.
"It seems ludicrous, it doesn't seem to make sense," she said.
"Nobody asked for Coral Beach Park to be extended."
Vader says that not only will the area best suited to public use at Gable Beach Park be preserved, but the Coral Beach location offers more to the community. Coral Beach Park already has infrastructure such as bathrooms, a tennis court and a swim bay.
"We feel that it's a great opportunity to expand a heavily used park," he said.
Meanwhile, Reed is encouraging members of the public to write letters to the mayor and council of Lake Country District and sign up to speak at the upcoming meeting.
With files from Daybreak South