Petition calls to keep natural habitat along Oyama’s isthmus after new park design released | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Petition calls to keep natural habitat along Oyama’s isthmus after new park design released

Image Credit: District of Lake Country

What started as a general feedback survey for the creation of a park along the Oyama isthmus has led to a petition calling for the preservation of the ward's natural habitat.

On his walks along the Oyama isthmus (a small piece of land between Kalamalka Lake and Wood Lake), Lake Country councillor Todd McKenzie said he’s heard from residents they want to preserve natural space in the form of trees, and pocket beaches that have already been established along Wood Lake’s waterfront.

The parcel of land identified for the Oyama Isthmus Park is located between Oyama Road and Wood Lake, stretching from Trask Road to the Wood Lake boat launch. The property was largely acquired through the purchase of the Okanagan Rail Trail corridor in 2015, according to the District of Lake Country's project plan.

The new park design includes a pier, children’s play zone, a packinghouse building and community square, additional parking and a lawn set back from the beach away from the shoreline.

The petition creator is calling on council to take a “less invasive” approach to the waterfront.

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“We understand that (the) design is still being reviewed and is subject to the public survey, but would like to further bring attention to the municipal council about public concern over... development,” writes petition creator Joel Whitesel, addressing Lake Country district council. The petition has gathered 700 signatures out of its goal of 1,000.

“Therefore we ask for the area from the high water mark of the Oyama waterfront to the boundary of the Okanagan Rail trail to remain natural and untouched by any future development of (the) park in the final design,” he wrote.

McKenzie noted that the design is still in its early stages, and the feedback from a public survey will be presented to council potentially later this month, with possible delays due to COVID-19. Parking is also a concern residents discussed with him, and he suggested to provide main parking along Pelmewash Parkway with paid parking along the isthmus to avoid congestion as an option.

"That's the locals' number one complaint is (concern about parking and congestion,)" he said. "What’s shown online is purely conceptual and for generating ideas. For everyone to be jumping on a petition, I think they are maybe not understanding what we’re after so maybe we didn’t do a great job of informing them in what we’re after.”

He said it’s a 20-year project and things can always change. He said there’s also brush and poison ivy at the location, which may have to be dealt with.

“Some people call it weeds, some people call it natural,” he said.

Alan Gatzke, who owns Gatzke Orchard in Oyama, said there isn’t any part of the isthmus that was natural or undisturbed, with the railway previously being located there.

“I think that those people are probably more concerned about if they fix up a park then there will be more people coming,” he said.

In Oyama, people have enjoyed the isthmus and it’s little nooks and want to keep it the way it is, he said.

“I’m in favour of doing something there… I’m glad something is being done rather than nothing,” Gatzke said. “There’s a history of industry on that land, and there’s still concrete foundations and old pipes and I’d prefer to see it organized and cleaned up. I don’t want to say I’m fully endorsing the plan, but I’d like to see one in place,” he said.

The public survey gathering feedback on the conceptual design wrapped up Sept. 7. The District of Lake Country was not immediately available to comment on the survey's results.

Oyama Isthmus Design Concept Design August 2020 by Carli Berry on Scribd


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