Garbage cans, picnic benches coming as regional district takes over Vernon's Sandy Beach - InfoNews

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Garbage cans, picnic benches coming as regional district takes over Vernon's Sandy Beach

File photo.
July 13, 2020 - 5:28 PM

A popular Vernon beach often used by partygoers as a place to have campfires without interference from the authorities has been brought under the management of the Regional District of North Okanagan and will be revamped.

Vernon's Sandy Beach which sits adjacent to the south of Kin Beach will now be maintained by the Regional District following the approval of a four-year agreement with the Okanagan Indian Band.

"The purpose of this is to turn it into a park and allow people to enjoy it," Regional District general manager of community services Mike Fox told iNFOnews.ca.

The beach, which sits between Vernon Creek and Tronson Road, is on Okanagan Indian Band land and falls outside the jurisdiction of the City of Vernon which maintains the adjacent Kin Beach.

The beach has been the site of numerous complaints over the years, everything from litter and dogs, to partygoers having campfires and people camping.

As Vernon bylaw officers had no jurisdiction on the beach, the strip of waterfront was an attractive place to skirt the rules imposed at other beaches in the area. A group of Vernon residents recently took it among themselves to organize a cleanup day and hauled large amounts of garbage from the beach.

The new agreement brings Sandy Beach under the Regional District's authority, allowing its bylaw officers and park staff to issue tickets. Campfires and dogs are now prohibited from the beach.

A Regional District staff report says the City of Vernon and the Okanagan Indian Band had a short-lived agreement in the summer of 2018 for Vernon to provide garbage collection on the beach, but the agreement expired in September 2018. 

"Many calls were received from the public requesting the beach be, once again, brought back to a safe and usable standard," reads the report.

The new agreement, valid until 2024, will see garbage cans and picnic tables placed at the beach, as well as mechanical beach raking and general maintenance. A three-metre wide gravel path running for 450 metres between the beach and Lakeshore Road is also planned.

Interpretive boards outlining the Okanagan Indian Band's history with the beach is also on the cards.

The agreement will cost $20,000 for 2020, and $40,000 per year thereafter.

Fox said recent changes to the Regional District's park bylaw will allow homeless people to camp on the beach between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. in line with similar bylaws from other jurisdictions following a B.C. Supreme Court ruling. Fox said people recently found camping on the beach had no fixed address.

While garbage cans and municipal clean-up crews will no doubt keep the place cleaner, the agreement does not touch on the issue of geese. The invasive birds have been the cause of much concern - and were partly to blame for high levels of E. Coli closing the beach to swimmers during the summer of 2019.

Vernon council narrowly voted against a proposed goose cull last February.

The Sandy Beach agreement was passed by the Regional District, July 9, and is due to be ratified by the board of directors within the next two weeks.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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