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VIDEO: Residents support public beach access

The first Walk the Beach event was held Sunday along Kelowna’s lakeshore
Bruce Wallis and Lana Tolfree listen as speeches are made at the first Walk the Beach event Sunday, which had residents walk along the foreshore starting at City Park. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Around 200 Kelowna residents showed their support for public beach access Sunday.

The first Walk the Beach event had participants leisurely stroll from City Park to Boyce-Gyro Beach Park.

“We’re trying to bring awareness to the fact that there are obstructions that are causing people to not be able to walk the foreshore and the foreshore is public,” said event organizer Brenda Bachmann.

Bachmann noticed the issue around 15 years ago, when she saw more docks and illegal fences being constructed, she said.

“Fences that go into the foreshore are not legal,” she said. “The ‘no trespassing’ signs are not legal, and docks are supposed to have steps going up and down each side.”

She would like local MLA’s to take the initiative.

“Why is it that for decades has this been allowed and why has no one done anything about it?” she said.

The goal with the walk is to bring the issue to light with annual events, said Al Janusas, spokesperson with Pandosy Lakeshore Active Neighbourhoods of Kelowna.

“To that end, we hope there are going to be changes between now and next year and we hope to make this an election issue in the 2018 (city) election.”

He said the event brings public attention to an issue that has been “simmering for decades.”

Janusas would love to see the province enforce the laws that are already in existence with more natural resource officers.

Bachmann presented a letter of support from Mayor Colin Basran at the start of the event.

In June, Basran made a statement during a council meeting calling on the province to deal with the rebuilding of docks, wharves, fences and walls on the lakeshore that will keep beach access open to the public between the high and low lake water marks.

Residents walk along Mushroom Beach Sunday as part of the first Walk the Beach event which had them march along the foreshore. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News