Kelowna walk raises awareness about public beach access

Click to play video: 'Raising awareness about public access to Kelowna’s beaches' Raising awareness about public access to Kelowna’s beaches
Dozens of people took a long walk along the beach on Sunday to raise awareness that the public has access to the foreshore, which is just below the normal high water mark. As Jules Knox reports, they found plenty of obstacles in their way – Aug 26, 2018

Dozens of people in Kelowna are trying to raise awareness that the public has access to the foreshore on Kelowna’s beaches, which is the land just below the normal high water mark.

More than 100 people showed up for a walk from City Park to Rotary Beach on Sunday.

“Over the years, whole sections of the lake have been built out and blockaded from the public,” said walk organizer Brenda Bachmann.

Waterfront property only extends to the normal high water mark. The land below belongs to the province and is public.

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“We are allowed to walk along there, and the unfortunate part there is that many of the people who own houses along the lakeshore give the public the impression that in fact, you can’t do that,” Al Janusas, an activist with Plan Kelowna, said.

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High docks are one of the main obstacles, he added.

If the height of a dock is more than 40 centimetres at the high water mark, stairs or ramps should be installed on both sides so pedestrians can continue along the foreshore, Janusas said.

“We come across rock walls, fences. Some people have hedges going into the lake,” Bachmann said.

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Waterfront property owner Geby Wager said the public is allowed to walk on the foreshore, but he struggles with people in front of his place.

“Unfortuantely, they go to the bathroom here, and leave their needles here,” Wager said.

The province then makes him clean it up, he said.

“So if I’m going to clean it up, then I’m going to try to prevent it from happening in the first place.”

Those walking the beach are calling for signs that would show the high water mark, which is something Wager agrees with.

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“I think if there were signs, and it was documented that these are the rules, most people would be happy with that,” he said.

With a civic election on the horizon, Janusas is calling for candidates to promise to link existing parks and beaches over the next four years.

Walk participants are also calling for the city to put pressure on the province to enforce the rules along the beach.

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