Logging along Mill Creek in Kelowna is park creation as well as flood control - InfoNews

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Logging along Mill Creek in Kelowna is park creation as well as flood control

Work crews removed trees and vegetation along Mill Creek last year and have moved upstream this year.
March 29, 2019 - 3:00 PM

KELOWNA - Cutting down trees next to Mill Creek may be good for flood control but it also plays a part in the realization of a long-term City of Kelowna goal to create a Mill Creek linear park.

“We have plans for six linear parks and Mill Creek is one of the top priorities,” Robert Parlane, the city’s Parks and Buildings Planning manager told iNFOnews.ca. “We don’t have all the properties needed for a complete linear park but we are acquiring properties as and when they become available, then it is subject to funding to put in the trail. We are actively pursuing turning it into a linear park.”

A linear parks plan was adopted by the city in 2009 and Mill Creek is listed as the number two priority, behind two waterfront links. One is between Strathcona and Kinsmen parks and a second one between Rotary Beach and Mission Creek.

The plan identifies the Mill Creek Linear Park as travelling between Parkinson Recreation Centre and Okanagan Lake.

Some of that is complete, such as the area around Parkinson and another section at Millbridge Park that connects Ethel Street to Gordon Drive.

Number three on the list is for a “Rails with Trails” between the UBC Okanagan campus and downtown.

The section from downtown to Dillworth Drive was built some years ago. Since then, the acquisition of the CN rail line and creation of the Okanagan Rail Trail now has a paved pathway from Spall Road to the Kelowna airport that intersects with and follows Mill Creek for much of its course to the airport.

The Mill Creek Linear Park Plan was created in 2000 and is not available online and may need to be reviewed as the Rail Trail essentially extends the linear park as far as the airport.

The current tree cutting on Mill Creek is upstream of Spall Road and will trigger some replanting.

“Not only are we removing trees in the channel right now, but we’re going to start planting and replacing trees and shrubs in various areas – mostly in areas where the city has control - within parks that border the creek,” Fred Schaad, the city’s project manager said.

That part of the creek channel has been left in a natural state for years, allowing trees to grow quite large in the area upstream from Spall Road. When the creek overflows its channel during spring runoff, branches and other debris get caught up on the trunks and create a dam that could cause the creek to overflow its banks onto neighbouring roads and into businesses.

The current work follows some cutting that was done last year. The idea is to get the stumps low enough that any flooding doesn’t cause blockages. The work can only be done until about mid-April, Schaad said. Later than that and the creek is too deep to allow tree trunks to be cut low enough.

Planting will be done at a later date in conjunction with the parks planners with an eye to a future linear park but that can only be done on city-owned land, and ownership is somewhat complicated along the creek.

Technically the creek itself is owned by the Crown and designated as a roadway. Private land may cross the creek, but while the owner may have title to the land they don’t actually own the creek, Schaad said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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