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One last day to walk the wooden boardwalk at Osoyoos Desert Centre

Sunday, Oct. 10 will be the final day of operation at the Osoyoos Desert Centre before the wooden boardwalk is replaced with one made of composite.
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October 09, 2021 - 4:34 PM

The boardwalk at the Osoyoos Desert Centre won’t be wooden for much longer.

“If you’ve been on the boardwalk in last few years you’d see the wood is deteriorating really fast,” Desert Centre manager Leor Oren said.

As the wood continues to weather, the possibility of a guest breaking through a board and hurting themselves increases, which is why Leor said the structure is becoming a liability.

Tomorrow, Oct. 10, is the final day for the public to stroll along the wooden walkway before the 2021 season comes to a close. 

By the start of the next operating year, in April 2022, the elevated wooden walkway will be replaced with a similar structure made of composite. Thanks to a grant from the Ministry of Tourism, the Desert Centre was able to afford the major renovation that came at a cost greater than $800,000. The wooden walkway was originally built in 1998 and was renovated a few years later. Since then single pieces of wood have been replaced as needed.

Whichever material the walkway is made out of, it will serve the same purpose of allowing large amounts of people to get right up close to a sensitive habitat while causing minimal damage.

Oren said the ecosystem has a delicate layer of biological soil crust, which doesn’t have to get stepped on because of the boardwalk.

“But still letting people get basically as close as you can,” he said. “Except for stepping on the crust you can do almost anything.”

READ MORE: The desert creatures are comin’ through: Osoyoos Desert Centre

The composite walkway is expected to be quieter, Oren said, so it provide better opportunities to see wildlife but he is most excited to know the boardwalk will be safer to walk on. He expects the new structure to last for at least 50 years.

The renovation is also a chance to make the walkway easier to use for those with physical disabilities.

“We’re trying to arrange slopes to be as gentle as possible. It’s not perfect, some slopes will still be a little difficult, but it’s an opportunity to make it more accessible for people in wheelchairs.”

However, he will miss the feel of the wooden structure, and compared it to a boat.

“It’s like the difference between a classic wooden ship and a new plexiglass fancy schmancy ship.”

The wood will be salvaged and shared with anyone in the community who can put it to good use.

“You can do almost anything except for burning this wood material,” Oren said, as the wood was coated with a type of arsenic to protect it from rotting and is not supposed to be burned.

One common request for the wood is to build planter boxes for gardens, and Oren said he plans on taking some home to build shelves.

“Start some woodworking at home,” he recommends.

Anyone interested in taking the wood home can contact the Desert Centre and arrange to pick up the pieces in November or December.

READ MORE: Osoyoos Desert Centre, Nk’Mip Cultural Centre get big provincial dollars

To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 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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