As the District of Lake Country engages with the public to reimagine the Oyama Isthmus, some residents are calling for the stretch of waterfront between Oyama Road and Wood Lake to be left untouched.
In August, a design concept was released for the future development of waterfront land stretching from Trask Road to the Oyama boat launch.
The proposed Oyama Isthmus Park project would add amenities including a dock and play pier, a covered community area and a central hub with public washrooms and change rooms.
The district is garnering feedback on the design concepts with a survey open until Monday, Sept. 7, with the results to be compiled in a report to council.
Meanwhile, a petition has been launched in opposition to the designs on the basis of preserving the area’s “natural beauty.”
“We understand that said 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 said development,” reads the petition started by Joel Whitesel.
“We believe there is no need to alter this waterfront that locals and tourists have been enjoying in the current state for years.”
The petition calls for the area from the Oyama waterfront’s high water mark to the Okanagan Rail Trail boundary to “remain natural and untouched by any future development.”
Environmental preservation isn’t overlooked in the design concept package, which devotes a section to restoring and protecting the natural environment along the shoreline.
“Park development should be focused in parts of the site that have low existing environmental sensitivity; intact native ecosystems and plant communities should not be disturbed. These areas should be enhanced with new native planting from the reference biogeoclimatic ecosystem,” the concept reads.
An environmental assessment of the land completed earlier this year made “numerous recommendations” for minimizing impacts on at-risk species and ecosystems, according to the design concept.
Area residents took to social media to suggest the district concentrate on finishing the Okanagan Rail Trail, fixing some roads and adding sidewalks instead of going forward with the project in question.
“The plan looks beautiful but there are so many other areas that could use improvement (roads),” wrote area resident Lori Ann. “Plans often sound or look good but don’t always turn out like the artist sketches.”
“There’s no need for it at all,” wrote Facebook user Sarah Thompson. “Make Pelmewash better with better beaches so tourists go there and put money into the area by Gazkes. Leave the small natural area that’s left.”
The survey, concepts and further information on the Oyama Isthmus Park can be found at letstalk.lakecountry.bc.ca.