Summerland residents take their parks and recreation very seriously. Fortunately, the same is true for the Summerland Council, as evidenced by our Active Lifestyles strategic priority, district staff, local service clubs, and many volunteers who volunteer their time or make financial contributions.
The Parks and Recreation Commission is an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and diligent group of volunteers who meet regularly to review the priorities of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan (2017) and make recommendations to Council.
Several recreational initiatives are underway or should be completed before the end of the year.
Most evident at the moment is the work for the new Memorial Park Playground, which is sure to provide as much fun for younger kids as Summerland Skatepark is for a wide range of enthusiasts. As is often the case, local groups have stepped up to help fund what should be a Destination Playground, and the call is open for volunteers who wish to lend a hand in some way. of another.
Located near the outdoor adult gym installed in 2021, the playground is another element of Memorial Park’s redesign. The park is part of the larger downtown district plan that is also underway.
After learning that a grant application for toilet upgrades at Peach Orchard and Rotary Beaches was unsuccessful earlier this year, the district put the project on hold. However, the project is back on the books for 2022 after the province was able to free up funds to award the grant after all.
This work will complement the reconstruction of the Lakeside Trail which was carried out last year following extensive flood damage in 2017. In this time of climate change and the need to build community resilience , the redesigned trail, with improved lighting, is a prime example of building back better.
One of the washrooms will also be set up for four-season operation, so that washroom facilities can be available to match residents’ year-round use of the lake shore.
Late last month, the district learned that the necessary approvals from provincial ministries had been granted and that work would be undertaken to reconstruct the portion of the Centennial Trail loop along Eneas Creek (Peach Orchard Road) which empties in Okanagan Lake.
The district follows a prescriptive Environmental Management and Restoration Plan and works with biologists and other professionals to address the environmental sensitivities of working in a riparian area and near a fish-bearing stream.
The provincial funding covers repairs to infrastructure that was damaged by the floodwaters, including upstream work on a portion of Garnet Avenue, with additional funding from the district’s gas tax funding to support the project. Other areas of Eneas Creek further upstream will be worked on as approvals are received from the provincial and federal governments.
Many people headed to the hills for at least the early days of the pandemic to maintain their physical and mental health outdoors, including Summerland’s two mountain parks: Giant’s Head and Conkle Mountain. To increase road accessibility to Giant’s Head, the council decided last year to reduce vehicle operating hours from noon to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday (when the park is open to non-vehicles only). This policy has worked well to adapt to the various uses on the road and so we will continue this approach throughout the 2022 season, starting April 15.
A partnership with the Summerland Rotary Club and additional funding from the provincial Rural Dividend Program helped complete Phases 1 and 2 of the Giant’s Head Trail redevelopment in 2020. The result of a grant application for the remaining two phases is pending – fingers crossed!
The parks are for people of all ages and abilities…and their dogs too. Updated bylaws regarding dog access to parks were passed by council in March 2022 and the Dale Meadows off-leash dog park pilot project continues, as does planning for a third dog park ( or a fourth, if you include BC Parks’ designated dog beach at Sun-Oka.)
Don’t forget about those with equine interests. Public engagement on the so-called Horse Beach (part of the Waterfront Concept Plan) recently ended. The district received hundreds of comments and thoughts on this plan. Please let us know what is most important to you.
Still with the horses, the Rodeo Grounds Master Plan initiative will be underway shortly. The Council expects a draft report by the end of the year. The Rodeo Grounds are another Summerland recreation area that receives lots of love and attention from passionate volunteers. The uses of horses in Conkle Mountain Park have also been incorporated into the recent park rule change based on public feedback.
We often hear the African saying “it takes a whole village to raise a child”. Likewise, it takes committed and dedicated people, including district staff, to foster a healthy community. We are lucky. In Summerland, we have a lot of those kinds of people. (That includes a certain staff member who quietly planted bulbs last fall so that visitors to the Municipal Hall could enjoy splashes of bright color during the gray days of late winter.)
Toni Boot is the mayor of Summerland.
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