June 09, 2016 - 4:30 PM
VERNON - The responsibility of keeping one of Vernon’s most prized viewpoints looking its best may fall to volunteers.
Nearly $60,000 was invested in the Kalamalka Lake Lookout site on Highway 97 by the province last year, including new garbage cans, picnic tables, toilets and landscaping, but conditions at the rest area are now being called into question.
Local North Okanagan Regional District director Bob Fleming says he, and other area representatives, have received complaints from the public about weeds, dead grass and vandalism at the rest stop.
“The complaints and observations are valid, and I think anybody who lives in the Vernon area would like to see that place spruced up,” Fleming says. “It’s a high profile spot, people get a first impression when they pull in. The view is fantastic but the conditions are awful.”
Greater Vernon politicians voted to send a letter to the Ministry of Transportation this morning, June 9, expressing its concern over the maintenance of the rest area, but Fleming has since learned it may not be the province’s responsibility after all.
After speaking with staff from the Ministry of Transportation, Fleming says the contract includes general maintenance like garbage removal, upkeep of the washrooms, and graffiti removal, but doesn’t involve weeding or weed-whacking.
“That was news to me,” Fleming says.
There have been some issues of vandalism, including trees being pulled out, and the Ministry will be taking care of that, Fleming says. He’s also told they will be re-seeding the grass, although that won’t occur until the fall.
As for keeping the weeds at bay, that’s a job that may fall on the public, Fleming says.
“I’m going to be seeing if we can engage some community groups. What the Ministry does have is ‘Adopt a Highway’ so maybe they can adapt that to the lookout. Maybe we can get engagement from groups interested in helping out with the aesthetics of the lookout,” he says.
The option is just an idea at this point, but Fleming will be canvassing local groups for interest.
In response to a request for an interview, the Ministry of Transportation provided a written statement.
"The ministry is aware of the condition and ongoing issues at the Kalamalka Lake Lookout in Coldstream. Unfortunately this lookout area has been frequently vandalized, which includes the removal of recently planted trees."
The statement goes on to say work will be done to explore alternative options to mitigate vandalism, including the possibility of planting bushes and grass instead of trees.
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