The City of Kelowna is prioritizing parks and public spaces in the city’s 2019 budget and for one group in Kelowna, this could be especially good news.
The city will allocate around $8 million to acquire, expand and develop new parks, while another $1.4 million will be spent on improvements to existing parks.
PLANKelowna, a small group of residents pushing for more parks and access to the shoreline, said more parks are better for the city.
“I would like to see an increase in the amount of parks in general,” said one of the group’s organizers, Al Janusas.
“Especially on the lakeshore because that would be really good for residents and tourism, and depending on who you talk to, (tourism) is one of our top industries here.”
City of Kelowna’s senior project manager Andrew Gibbs said some projects targeted in the budget include the installation of the turf field at Glenmore Recreation Park, restoring a section of the Paul’s Tomb Trail and replacing the 50-year-old playground equipment at Bankhead Park.
“Every year we work on a variety of projects to both improve existing parks and develop new ones,” he said.
The city will also work with the Kelowna Minor Fastball Society to replace fencing and bleachers and improve the dugouts at High Noon Park. Both parties are providing $50,000 for the improvements.
“Investments in projects such as these—particularly when they involve collaborating with a local organization or sports groups—support our effort to create an active, inclusive and vibrant city,” Gibbs said.
Kelowna boasts more than 200 parks that serve a number of purposes and activities, including cricket, bocce, BMX, basketball and outdoor table tennis.
Janusas said although the development of new buildings and infrastructure has been prominent in this city council’s agenda, the group was pleased to see a sign installed at an “almost park” near Knox Mountain last week.
“Take a drive out and have a look and you’ll see what I mean,” he said about the “almost park” at Poplar Point Drive. “They cleaned up the site a little bit and added signage.”
“The ‘almost park’ and the path down to the lake is completely surrounded by hillside houses and local residents who don’t have waterfront access have been using that as a personal path to the lake for many years,” he explained. “It was, and remains, a rugged path.”
“We’re all in favour of that,” he said. “And, we’re in favour of building really basic parks and improving them as the budget allows.”