A popular urban trail in Kelowna is about to get longer, and more interesting.
The Mission Creek Greenway, a favourite hiking and bike trail, is going to be extended further west to Lakeshore Road.
When it was established almost 20 years ago thanks to the perseverance of community members, the goal was to create a trail that ran through to Lake Okanagan.
Now, the City will cut the ribbon on a new one-acre park at Truswell and Lakeshore Road which is part of the Greenway extension along Mission Creek. The new space will be freshly landscaped and include a parking lot.
The park, at a cost of $250,000, is near the site of the old La Mission Motor Inn. The lots were purchased by the City of Kelowna and used as a staging area for construction crews working on Lakeshore Road Bridge. City officials were able to obtain some public land beside Mission Creek right behind the Enigma Hotel by swapping some of the old motor inn land in a transaction that cost zero dollars to tax payers.
This creative land configuration means that users of the Mission Creek Greenway can go under instead of across Lakeshore Road and enjoy the close proximity to the lake.
There is one last piece to the puzzle on the Greenway, and that is for the City of Kelowna's real estate division to obtain a public right-of-way directly behind the Walnut Grove.
A public pathway is already in place east of the Walnut Grove, established by the owners of the Water's Edge condominium project who provided the land necessary for a pathway when the condo complex was undergoing development.
Regular surveys conducted by the City polling residents about access to the lake show that the public wants quicker access to the lake. What the public doesn't realize in considering the extension of the Mission Creek Greenway all the way to Lake Okanagan is the acquisition process for the land required and creating a pathway above the high water mark. It's a long-term project.
In 2016, it will be exactly 20 years since the Friends of the Mission Creek Society was formed, a volunteer group committed to creating the Greenway, Kelowna's most popular recreation corridor. The society raised $700,000 in 1996 to begin construction and recently, they raised an additional $250,000 to construct just two kilometres of trail which is set to open at the end of November.
They're also looking for new members to assist in fundraising and working with the City of Kelowna as they push forward to extend the trail to the lake. Anyone interested is invited to the Friends of Mission Creek Society's Annual General Meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 6:45 pm, at the EECO in Mission Creek Regional Park, at Springfield and Durnin Road. Keynote speaker will be Murray Roed, a Kelowna engineering consultant and geological expert who will discuss the geological landmarks of the Greenway.
This corridor is one of the city's most heavily utilized parks, with an interpretive centre, salmon spawning channel and a playground with a picnic area. When it's finished, it will be 26 kilometres long and will go from Mission Creek Falls down to Lake Okanagan.