Major link in westside waterfront trail system set to open next year - InfoNews

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Major link in westside waterfront trail system set to open next year

Gellatly Bay trail is one of the few existing links in a waterfront trail planned to run from Bennett Bridge to Peachland
December 18, 2018 - 10:00 AM

WEST KELOWNA - Cyclists and hikers will be able to enjoy spectacular views of Okanagan Lake when Goats Peak Regional Park opens in 2019.

While it’s a vital link in the long imagined westside waterfront trail that may some day link Penticton with the Bennett Bridge in Kelowna, it won’t allow anyone to bypass Drought Hill if they want to make that journey.

The Regional District of the Central Okanagan bought Goats Peak in 2014 and did some work this year on a trail running from Shelter Bay Road towards West Kelowna.

So far, the trail only goes from the road end to a viewpoint about two-thirds of the way through the park, Wayne Darlington, Parks Planning and Capital Projects Manager for the regional district explained.

“We’ll be working on another trail next spring to get to the height of land and back again,” he said. "We’re hoping some time next year we’ll be able to get that all done.”

The problem is the height of land is quite high and it butts up against a large piece of private land that does not seem to be headed for development any time soon – and it’s only through development that the City of West Kelowna is able to acquire access through private land.

Closer to the lake, there is a bench of land running through the park that would allow for a less strenuous bike or hiking path. It also butts up against private land with no access to Whitworth Road in the near future.

“We don’t have the funds right now to purchase any more property for parks,” West Kelowna Parks Planner Natalie Gerritsen said. “We acquired property in Rose Valley for the sports field. It will take awhile before the reserves are built back up before we can acquire more property. I think the plan is to wait for private property to develop.”

Goats Peak was purchased by the Regional District in 2014 and a master plan completed in the spring of 2016. It calls for almost $200,000 to be spent in the first five years, mostly for trail development, with another $120,000 over the following five years.

The park itself is the rocky outcrop east of Drought Hill and the Highway 97 junction with the Okanagan Connector. It covers 52 hectares with a piece of private property on the lake in between, but there is a right of way connecting the two parts of the park.

It has 900 metres of waterfront, including small beaches, but not much is accessible from land because of the steep, rocky terrain.

The park is closed to the public until the rest of the trail work is done but access through to West Kelowna is dependant on the city negotiating with property owners, usually when they want to develop their land. The hope is to connect with West Kelowna’s rudimentary waterfront trail that, ultimately, will connect to Highway 97 by the bridge – but it may never be totally along the water.

West Kelowna drafted its Waterfront Plan in 2011 and it envisions a multi-use pathway connecting Goats Peak with Bennett Bridge, but it has a long ways to go.

At the south end is Whitworth and George Court paths that are along those roads, connecting to Gellatly Nut Farm and Gellatly Bay. But to the east of Gellatly Bay lies a private beach owned by Westbank First Nations.

The next link is at Aberdeen Park, south of Green Bay with access of West Bay Road. There is a trail there for about 130 metres, Gerritsen said.

Then it’s back to the road network until reaching Kalamoir Regional Park off Sunnyside Road. Kalamoir provides the longest continuous stretch of trail along the waterfront but ends at Casa Loma and there’s no option, at this time, but to take Campbell Road to the highway.

“We’re working on it,” Gerritsen said. “But it will take some time.”

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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