June 09, 2016 - 10:30 AM
VERNON - It’s an iconic view of Vernon often used to illustrate the beauty of the city, and many people would like to see it preserved indefinitely for public enjoyment.
Residents of the Foothills, located at the base of Silver Star Mountain, want to see a bluff above the subdivision turned into a roughly 50-acre sub-regional park. Wynn Polnicky, with the Foothills Community Association, says hundreds of that community’s residents support the idea.
“It’s a spectacularly beautiful viewpoint,” Polnicky says. “It’s the view from that bluff that Vernon puts on things like its Official Community Plan because it provides the best view of the city and its environment. You can see Okanagan Lake and Kalamalka Lake spread out below you.”
But the land is currently private property and those who hike up to enjoy the view are technically trespassing.
“People treat it as if it’s already a park,” Polnicky says.
Users have formed a modest trail through the unique wooded area and up to the bluff.
“In addition to being a spectacular viewpoint, it’s also rare in that it’s an old growth forest existing in an urban environment. It’s uncommon to find that inside the boundaries of a city,” he says.
The land is held by three separate owners, and Polnicky is encouraging Greater Vernon to be prepared when, and if, the properties go up for sale. He believes the land is too steep for development, but isn’t ruling out the possibility.
“I think it’s worth thinking about now and being prepared when that opportunity comes up,” he says.
Polnicky will present to the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee June 9 and director Mike Macnabb says they will hear him out.
“The big stumbling block there is the land itself is highly prized and expensive,” Macnabb says. “We’d love to buy everything, but we can’t.”
Greater Vernon has created several new parks lately, including the former Camp Hurlburt site, the park at Swan Lake, and a park atop Middleton Mountain.
“It’s not without precedent,” Macnabb says.
He’s interested in finding out if the community association would be willing to help raise money.
“In my view the priority is determined by how willing the public is to get behind it,” he says.
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