Regional Parks Services News:
Summer-Fall Parks Guide Available
The Summer-Fall edition of ‘Your Guide to Regional Parks’ is now online and hot off the press!
“The 10 page full colour foldout has all the information you need about our exciting line up of programs and events in our Regional Parks for the rest of 2013,” says Communications Officer Bruce Smith.
“The handy ‘Year at a Glance’ provides a month by month listing of programs and activities at the EECO located in Mission Creek Regional Park and in many of the Central Okanagan’s 27 other Regional Parks.” There’s also a colour map showing each Regional Park location and some of the features and amenities that are available.
Smith adds, “With summer fast approaching, parents of youngsters age three to seven may want to check out the dates, times and registration information for this year’s ‘Summer Nature Camp’ program during July and August.”
The Regional Parks guide also has the details for our special interpretive ‘Take a Hike’ program. “This year” Smith says, “Each hike has a special theme and our Parks Interpreter will be joined by a special guest. They’ll share interesting highlights and information about each park visited. As well this year, our Community Recreational Initiatives Society or CRIS partners will be holding special Adaptive Adventure walks and hikes in our Regional Parks.”
Smith adds, “We’re also introducing a number of special free ‘Families in Parks’ events that will engage every member of your family and you’re invited to join our ‘Parks Fun Zones’ program with games and activities for every member of your family.”
The new Regional Parks Guide is available anytime online by visiting regionaldistrict.com/parksguide. Or you can pick up a copy at the Regional District office (1450 KLO Road), the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan in Mission Creek Regional Park (Springfield and Durnin Roads) and very soon at any local government office, recreation centre or tourist and information offices in the Central Okanagan.
For more information about any Regional Parks programming and our detailed section for Regional Parks, visit regionaldistrict.com/parks or call the EECO at 250-469-6140.
Mission Creek Greenway Underpass Closed Again
Once again, rising water levels have forced the Regional District to close the Mission Creek Greenway underpass at the Casorso Road Bridge.
The creek level and flow has risen quickly in light of the heavy rain received throughout the area yesterday and is expected to remain high with more rain in the forecast for the rest of the week. Greenway patrons are reminded that the trail on the south side of Mission Creek at the Gordon Drive Bridge is also closed until further notice.
The Regional District of Central Okanagan urges Greenway users to respect the barricades and signs posted at these locations along the recreational trail as the underpasses will remain closed until waters recede.
Pedestrians and cyclists are asked to use caution and only cross Casorso Road when it is safe. Motorists are also asked to watch for Greenway users who may be crossing the road in this area while the underpass is closed.
At the present time, Greenway patrons may continue to use the north-side creek underpass at Gordon Drive which remains open. Please note however, that this too could be subject to closure at any time.
Regional Parks staff continues to monitor creek levels along the entire length of the Mission Creek Greenway. People are reminded that water levels may rise unexpectedly and they, children and pets should stay safely back from creek banks, which may be slippery or subject to erosion from the spring runoff.
Boaters and those using Okanagan Lake boat launches are advised to watch for floating debris that may enter the lake as a result of the runoff.
Key Corridor Connection for Glen Canyon Regional Park
The purchase of a 13.86 hectare property will greatly enhance the connections to Glen Canyon Regional Park in West Kelowna.
Regional District Board Chair Robert Hobson was joined by Director and West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater to celebrate the fourth addition this year to the Regional Park system. View RDCO Youtube Channel Presentation
Hobson says “The purchase of Brown Road property provides a critical link in the goal of connecting the lower portion of Glen Canyon Regional Park. This acquisition will facilitate the creation a continuous trail from the fish ladders off Gellatly Road south through to the Westbank Town Centre Park.”
Hobson adds, “The recently announced donation of parkland to West Kelowna, adjoining the existing lower portion of Glen Canyon Regional Park, is certainly an opportunity to work with West Kelowna, to realize this vision.”
The $1.18-million property purchase was funded through the Regional Parks Legacy Fund and contributions from and for the benefit of all Central Okanagan residents. This property meets two important Regional Parks Plan criteria for consideration under the Legacy Fund. First, it’s close to a large number of residents since it’s located between two well-populated areas of West Kelowna. Second, it provides great recreation potential as there are fairly easy walks on the historical flume trail, linking with steeper and more challenging trails in the lower sections of the canyon. View Park Property Map
This property will remain closed to the public until Spring next year as the connecting trail will be designed and built during the remainder of 2013.
Hobson adds, “Over the past five years, $9.1 million dollars has been provided from residents of all Central Okanagan municipalities and electoral areas to leverage the acquisition of important lands for our Regional Park system. This year alone we’ve announced the addition of just over 37 hectares of land with almost $8.3-million in funding in order to protect these lands for the use of future generations. In addition, another 800-hectares was added through the Regional District’s partnership with the Central Okanagan Land Trust to create the Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park.”
Mission Creek Playground Structure Open
Thank you for your patience. The new playground structure in Mission Creek Regional Park is now open and available for use.
The adjacent grassy area and landscaping however, are still closed. Please stay off and out of these roped and fenced areas so that the grass and plants can solidly root to the soil.
A grand opening of the new playground structure and area is expected in June.
Learn more about the new playground project on the Mission Creek Regional Park webpage.
Youngsters Encouraged to 'Go Fish'
Grab your fishing rods, reels and bait! Once again Central Okanagan youngsters are encouraged to ‘Go Fish’.
Everything gets underway this coming weekend with the grand opening kickoff on Saturday, May 4th at the Hall Road pond in Mission Creek Regional Park and on Sunday, May 5th at the special fishing area set up in Shannon Lake Regional Park. Regional Parks staff and volunteers from our participating organizations will provide a barbeque and refreshments to satisfy the appetite and thirst our young fishers will work up!
Each weekend through Sunday, June 16th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, youngsters 15 years of age and under will be able to fish for rainbow trout and are allowed to keep one each day, without a fishing licence. Each Saturday at the Hall Road pond, volunteers from the Kelowna and District Fish and Game Club and Lonely Loons Flyfishers Society will provide equipment and expert fishing guidance while members of the Peachland Sportsmen’s Association will lend their fishing expertise to ‘Go Fish’ participants in the netted area at the south end of Shannon Lake in Shannon Lake Regional Park. Each Sunday, Regional Parks Services staff will provide equipment and will be available to help youngsters as they try their luck in the two fishing program locations.
With the support of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. each fishing area will be stocked with rainbow trout measuring 25 – 30 centimetres that have been reared at the Summerland Trout Hatchery. For some youngsters the ‘Go Fish’ program may be their first opportunity to experience the lifelong enjoyment of fishing.
Regional District Communications Officer Bruce Smith says, “This program is one of the most successful and well supported programs that we run each year. Since the first ‘Go Fish’ was held in 2007, several thousand youngsters have grabbed a rod and tossed their hook into the water eagerly anticipating that first bite from a young rainbow. There’ve been countless smiles and cries of joy when they’ve managed to bring in what for many is their first fish! We’ve been able to share this exciting urban fisheries program with our dedicated and passionate volunteers who truly wish to pass on their love of the sport.”
Smith adds, “If you plan to join us during any of the ‘Go Fish’ weekends, please respect our park neighbours by parking only in the designated areas. While participants under age 16 are not required to have a fishing license for this program we ask if possible that they bring their own fishing equipment, since there is a limited number of rods and reels that they may borrow at each site.”
The ‘Go Fish’ recreational fishing program is put on by Regional District Parks Services and its volunteer partners, the Kelowna and District Fish and Game Club, Lonely Loons Flyfishers Society and Peachland Sportsmen’s Association along with the support of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, the Summerland Trout Hatchery and the Ministry of Environment.
Mission Creek Greenway Trail Section Officially Added
A section of trail along Mission Creek has now officially been added to the Mission Creek Greenway recreational corridor.
While many people have utilized the 450-metres of trail along the south dyke of Mission Creek between Gordon Drive and Casorso Road over the years, it was not until the Regional District received a legal Statutory Right-of-Way, that this portion of the trail has now officially been added as a part of the Greenway.
Concrete barricades that previously marked the legal end of this trail will soon be removed. Until then, pedestrians, cyclists and other visitors may continue to use the trail unimpeded by the barricades.
The Westbank First Nation has provided a letter to the City of Kelowna authorizing further trail access from Casorso Road through its Reserve No. 8 along the north and south-side creek dykes in order to link up with the now formal south-side Greenway trail through to Gordon Drive. People can access this portion of the trail from the parking area at the Mission Sportsfields, just off Gordon Drive. The new access creates a complete 2.5-kilometre loop trail that people can use on both sides of Mission Creek between Gordon Drive and Casorso Road.
This project is in partnership with the Mission Creek Restoration Initiative and has been funded with a grant from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation. It includes the purchase of a 2.7-hectare property adjacent to Mission Creek. The Initiative partnership envisions the property will be used to provide a setback of the creek dyke to re-align and re-establish the creek channel to a more natural, meandering route.
The Regional District’s trail Statutory Right-of-Way and property purchase contribution ($215,000) was funded through the Regional Parks Legacy fund. (View Map)
The Mission Creek Restoration Initiative partnership is comprised of the Central Okanagan Land Trust, City of Kelowna, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Friends of Mission Creek, BC Ministry of Environment, Okanagan Nation Alliance, Westbank First Nation and the Regional District of Central Okanagan.
Donation Creates 2nd Nature Conservancy Regional Park
A generous land donation, the largest ever in the Central Okanagan ensures the protection of over 323-hectares (800-acres) along the south slopes for generations of Central Okanagan residents.
Regional Board Chair Robert Hobson has announced the creation of the Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park. “It all began 20 years ago when the Johns siblings, Nancy and Alfred contacted the Central Okanagan Land Trust (COLT) about the goal of bequeathing their properties totaling more than 300-hectares. Since 1993, the Regional District has been working with COLT on agreements for the gifting and leasing of these properties that would eventually see these environmentally significant lands protected, adjacent to the existing 79.5-hectare Cedar Mountain Regional Park. While Nancy passed away in 2002, it wasn’t until Alfred’s passing in the spring of 2011 that the remaining two parcels of just over 194-hectares (480-acres) bequeathed to the Central Okanagan Land Trust, were made available to the Regional District, completing the total parkland donation.”
Hobson says “This is the single-largest donation of parkland in the Central Okanagan, perhaps even the province and thanks to the generosity and vision of Nancy and Alfred and surviving Johns’ family members it will be protected for the enjoyment of people in perpetuity.” The market value of these lands is estimated at more than $7.8-million. View Map
“It’s only fitting,” Hobson adds, “that those who made such a significant donation possible, be recognized. That’s why we’re naming these lands ‘Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park’, amalgamating the bequeathed lands with the former Cedar Mountain Regional Park creating a 402.5-hectare park."
These additional 323-hectares of park lands announced today will remain closed until a Park Management Plan is prepared and trails are formally developed. In the interim, the former Cedar Mountain portion will remain open and accessible to the public.
The President of the Central Okanagan Land Trust, Barry Jones says, “The creation of this new large Regional Park is a great example of how government and local non-governmental organizations like COLT can work together to conserve our natural heritage and protect biodiversity. We would be encouraged if other local land-owners are similarly inspired by this example.”
The Central Okanagan Land Trust (COLT) has been working with the Regional District and local municipalities for more than twenty years on projects that range as widely as Rose Valley Pond and Robert Lake to the Mission Creek Greenway and now, this new Regional Park. COLT's mandate focuses on preservation of the Central Okanagan's natural landscapes and wildlife habitats, and this new Regional Park represents how successfully the partnership with individuals, businesses and agencies can be. The Central Okanagan Land Trust can be reached at email@example.com or through its website at http://www.coltrust.ca/.
In addition to the announcement of the region’s second Nature Conservancy Regional Park, Kelowna Mission MLA Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations announced that Government has designated the Crown land between the new Regional Park and Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park for public recreational use only, which limits the kind of development and activity that can take place. The new designation ensures protection of a significant wildlife and ecosystem corridor along the south slopes.
Storytime at the EECO
Pre-schoolers love ‘Storytime at the EECO’.
This free interactive drop-in program for children age three to five and their caregivers takes place each Tuesday morning at 10:00 until June 25that the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan or EECO (ee-COH).
During the hour, participants will be treated to nature themed stories, songs and crafts. It’s a fun and active way to learn more about our Regional Parks and the animals of the Okanagan. When the weather’s appropriate, short outdoor walks will be included.
There’s plenty of parking at the EECO, located in Mission Creek Regional Park at Springfield and Durnin Roads.
For more information visit the Regional District website regionaldistrict.com/parks or contact the EECO staff at 250-469-6140.
Tracks Walking Club Underway
It’s time to sign up for the free ‘Tracks Walking Club’ that gets you outside and active this spring.
The beginner walking program starts April 3rd and runs Monday and Wednesday mornings at 9:00 (no walk Victoria Day May 20th). Club members and our walking leader will start with a 15-minute walk, gradually increasing the duration of their walks along the Mission Creek Greenway and in Mission Creek Regional Park to 90 minutes by the end of the nine week program.
Members also receive a walking journal, walking tips, seminars and motivational tips to keep them moving.
‘Tracks’ is a registered Hearts in Motion Walking Club with the BC Heart and Stroke Foundation.
For more information about this or other Regional Park programs please visit the Regional District website regionaldistrict.com/parks or contact the EECO at 250-469-6140.
Regional Parks Growth to Enhance Artistic Endeavours
The Regional District of Central Okanagan’s unveiled two key property acquisitions under its multi-million dollar Parks Legacy Program.
The District recently closed the purchase of the 3.5-hectare 969 Raymer Rd. property and the 17.7-hectare 979 Raymer Rd. property, both adjacent to the existing Woodhaven Nature Conservancy Regional Park. A total of $6.9-million was used from the Regional Parks Legacy Fund to acquire the two properties in the south Mission area of Kelowna.
Regional Board Chair Robert Hobson says, “Purchasing these important properties helps fulfill our goal of protecting important regional ecosystems for future generations. These additions provide for future expansion of the existing Woodhaven Regional Park as well as a critical nature corridor connection to the higher elevations of Bellevue Creek. They also offer a key node in the City of Kelowna plan for the Bellevue Creek Linear Park.” (View Map)
The property purchases will also give the Regional District more control of its existing infrastructure by improving access to the Bellevue Creek diversion channel which supplies water to Woodhaven Nature Conservancy Regional Park.
In 2007, the Regional Board agreed to earmark a special tax requisition over five years to build the Parks Legacy Fund in order to leverage the purchase and protection of important properties for the Regional Park system. Hobson says, “The creation of and contributions to this fund required the vision, cooperation and support of all Regional Board members, especially as the economy was facing challenging times. It’s taken a few years, but now we’re in a position to start seeing the payoff on that unanimous endeavor on behalf of everyone living in the Central Okanagan.
In addition to outlining the property purchases, Hobson announced that the Regional District was working the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus (UBCO) to develop a unique artistic and cultural partnership. The Regional District hopes, with these property acquisitions, to further cultivate the successful relationship with UBCO’s Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies. The intention would be to expand on the successful Eco-Art initiative undertaken during 2010 in Woodhaven Nature Conservancy Regional Park.
The announcement was celebrated with an art project created by UBC’s visiting artist-in-residence, Marlene Creates. Newfoundland ecological artist and poet Creates worked with over 30 Okanagan artists and community members on a unique “award ribbon” project that people at the announcement were invited to explore and enjoy.
Now that the property purchases are complete, the Regional Parks staff will begin to implement the Park Management Plan, with 969 Raymer Rd. set to open in the near future, and 979 Raymer Rd. to open after lease obligations to the previous owners expire.
'Explore Your Regional Parks'exhibit at the EECO
What Regional Park has a lake fed by an underground spring inside an extinct volcano? Most of which Regional Park is located along land that was the home of early settler and gold prospector Dan Gallagher? Which Regional Park overlooks a reservoir named after an early pioneering family? *
The answers to these questions and more can be found at the new 'Explore Your Regional Parks' exhibit at the EECO in Mission Creek Regional Park, Springfield and Durnin Roads.
During your visit, you'll likely discover something new about the 28 Regional Parks spread across the Central Okanagan. Each has its own unique ecosystems, wildlife habitats, history and heritage. Some of our parks are more natural, conservation locales, while others celebrate the history of the area, and others offer fun, recreational opportunities for the whole family.
Communications Officer Bruce Smith says, "That's why we've created this special exhibit, showcasing what each of our parks has to offer. If you're curious about a park you've never visited, stop into the EECO, check out the exhibit, make some interesting discoveries and we'll tell you all about it."
The EECO or Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.
For more information about its year round programs and exhibits visit regionaldistrict.com/parks.