Vernon council will see what the public says before deciding if they will proceed with developing up to ten lake access sites the next two years.
Two public info sessions will be held this month, on the 15th in Okanagan Landing and on the 25th at the Vernon Rec Centre (see below for more details).
Mayor Akbal Mund doesn’t support moving forward, concerned city staff already have a full plate.
“We have a plan going in for the Civic Arena. We have a plan going in for Polson Park. We have a plan we have moved forward for the lakeshore lots. That all takes time and work, so it’s not about the money, it’s about let’s get what we have in the que done,” Mund tells Kiss FM.
Councillor Juliette Cunningham says the city needs more lake accesses for families and tourism, and she supports using 270-thousand dollars from a reserve fund for extra staffing (two years for total of $230,000) and a consultant ($40,000) for detailed drawings.
She questioned council’s commitment to the plan.
“It always seems like a good idea until we have to buck-up,” said Cunningham. “It doesn’t come without a cost. I don’t have a problem defending this. It is a good use of our dollars. For families that don’t travel, this is their entertainment.”
Councillor Brian Quiring led a motion to defer a decision until after the public meetings.
“We need the public to let us know what their expectations with respect to how many of these sites get developed,” says Quiring
The funding would come from the Development Excess Revenue Reserve, which currently has $468,305 in place.
“Three lake accesses currently have budget approval: Delcliffe, Beachcomber (which were funded from the 2015 and 2016 budgets respectively) and an additional lake access identified in the 2017 Capital budget,” says a report to council from Long Range Planning manager Rob Miles.
“The Four Year Capital Plan has identified an additional lake access for 2018 with a $50,000 budget. Therefore, Council’s request would requite improvements to six additional lake accesses for a total of ten.”
A city news release says during the Parks Master Plan public consultation, Vernon residents identified access to the lake as a top priority.
“There are currently 39 access sites to Okanagan Lake in Vernon but most are not signed or easily accessed. The draft Plan identifies 13 sites as being a high priority for improvements, 14 as medium priorities and 10 as low priorities. The draft plan also recommends that two lake access sites be sold. Currently, one lake access site a year is proposed to be improved starting with high priority sites,” says the release.
Vernon residents are invited to visit open houses to review the draft Lake Access Plan, ask questions and provide feedback.
February 15, 3 – 7 p.m. at Paddlewheel Hall (7813 Okanagan Landing Road) and
February 25, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Vernon Recreation Centre (3310 37 Avenue).
The feedback collected from the public will be reviewed in March and presented to council with a final Lake Access Plan expected this summer.
Photo: Akbal Mund, Vernon Mayor