The Town of Oliver will apply for land tenure for the proposed “Riverside Park” on condition that it receive two key letters.
Last week council discussed the recent proposal by Bill Ross and Murray Soder to establish a linear park along the Okanagan River from drop structures 11-13. The proposal includes a hard surface trail, lighting, landscape enhancement and fitness stations.
Council initially supported the idea and urged Ross and Soder to get local MLA support so that the Ministry of Environment would come on board. In turn, the men wanted the Town of Oliver to apply for land tenure.
Council agreed to seek tenure if it receives two letters – one from Oliver Parks and Recreation to maintain the trail, and another from Ross and Soder indicating they would look after fundraising and trail construction.
Municipal Manager Tom Szalay said construction or maintenance cannot proceed without consent from the province, which owns and maintains the land for flood control purposes.
Szalay said any physical improvements on these lands cannot impede the maintenance and operation of dikes or drop structures. For example, fitness benches would need to be located “out of the way.”
Another concern is habitat, Szlay said, noting the river is an important fish-bearing stream flanked by valuable riparian habitat. Any plant alteration would likely be restricted, he pointed out.
Szalay also cited liability concerns. “Of particular concern to the ministry is liability arising from more public being placed in danger if hazard trees are not pruned or removed.”
Szalay said Oliver has a history of rallying behind recreational initiatives, therefore, people would likely support the proposal generously. But any residual cost would fall onto local government, he stated, adding this funding needs to be determined and secured prior to starting construction.
Ross previously stated the park would be built with donations and in-kind work from local contractors.
Szalay said grants and donations are feasible, but the same cannot be said for ongoing maintenance. “Lack of properly funded maintenance will lead to a run-down facility and increase the risk of public injury from falling trees, trip hazards . . .”
Szalay said the Town is already proposing to pave a three-metre wide walking trail on the dike from Fairview Road to drop structure 13. Grant funding and tenure are also in place.
Szalay said it is strongly recommended that the lead agency for the proposed park be the RDOS in partnership with Oliver Parks and Recreation.
“The Oliver Parks and Recreation Society is the only local agency with a mandate and experience to develop and operate recreation facilities.”