Oliver men propose new riverfront park

Oliver men propose new riverfront park

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Two Oliver men are promoting the establishment of a new riverfront park that will enhance people’s health and fitness.
Bill Ross and Murray Soder pitched their proposal to Town council last week, and were met with general support. But Ross said council needs to pass a motion to this effect and work with the regional district and local MLAs to bring the park to fruition. It was agreed the plan would not succeed without involving local politicians to circumvent bureaucracy.
Soder and Ross are proposing to create “Oliver River Park,” incorporating fitness activity stations on each side of the river from drop structure 11 to 13, for a total distance of five kilometres.
Soder said there is a growing trend across Canada, the US and Europe to develop or adapt parks to provide “parcourse” exercise stations for the physical and mental well-being of citizens. These stations could feature various apparatus such as exercise bars, push-up stands, and sit-up benches.
Soder noted the area (1.6 miles) on each side of Okanagan River in Oliver is ideally suited for this proposal. He pointed out the landscape between the river dikes currently features noxious weeds and weed trees such as Siberian elm.
Soder said the plan is to replace the elms and knapweed with clumps of trees, shrubs and low maintenance grass that will enhance the habitat for birds and other wildlife. In addition, a few picnic tables and benches will be provided along the route, accessible to wheelchairs and motorized scooters.
Soder said the parcourse stations will be recessed into the ground, lined with landscape cloth and filled with wood chips. A minimum of two stations will be installed for garbage and recycle bins.
“The emphasis will largely be on the health and fitness of our citizens,” Soder said.
It is proposed that local contractors be utilized on a pro bono (voluntary) basis in return for a receipt for a taxable donation.
Nulton Irrigation has volunteered to design the irrigation system for the park, but funding will be required for irrigation piping and sprinklers.
Soder said they would prefer to use solar LED lighting in order to eliminate wiring.
Ross and Soder anticipate that grant money could be available from life insurance companies and Interior Health to help pay for and install the parcourse equipment.
Ross said their goal is to beautify the area by getting rid of unattractive vegetation, while maintaining the natural habitat.
He noted Oliver’s “sister city” Lake Chelan has done a wonderful job with its riverfront parks, which is a great benefit to the community.
Ross said the proposal requires letters of support from rural and Town citizens. They can write to Oliver River Park c/o Town of Oliver, Box 638, V0H 1T0.
He noted the Okanagan Similkameen Parks Society has already given its support.
Ross stated it’s up to the Town to get tenure on this riverfront property, which the ministries of environment and forests have jurisdiction over.
Councillor Linda Larson warned Ross and Soder that having a relationship with the Ministry of Environment (in these cases) is like banging your head against the wall.
Councillor Dave Mattes mirrored this concern, noting that Oliver Parks and Recreation spent several months negotiating a contract with the ministry to maintain the hike and bike path.
“If you want to remove a stick, you have to phone the ministry to open the gate.”
Mayor Ron Hovanes said the proposal is a great idea, but agreed the hurdles will come from the ministry. That’s why the MLAs need to be involved, he noted.
Ross agreed, saying the park won’t see the light of day unless the politicians are involved.
Municipal Manager Tom Szalay said the Town is currently waiting for land tenure and funding to pave a section of the east walkway from Fairview bridge to drop structure 13. This project is expected to begin next spring.
But Ross fears this paving project will overshadow the park proposal and push it off the radar. That’s why he encourages people to write the Town.

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