A view of Osprey Park in the Green Bay area of West Kelowna. The park opening is part of a much bigger project to improve public access to the Okanagan Lake.
As luck would have it, she happened upon West Kelowna's newest waterfront park. So new, in fact, a grand opening ceremony was just starting.
"I think this is a fantastic place, really lovely," Woodward said while her girls, three-year-old Lilly and four-year-old Nina, played on the climbing structure at Osprey Park on Green Bay Road.
The Woodwards, who have just moved to the nearby Lakeview Heights neighbourhood from Burnaby, were among several dozen people who gathered to watch West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater declare the park open.
"It's the first of many more to come," Findlater said, referring to the municipality's ongoing program to improve public access to
29 so-called road ends, fairly narrow strips of public land that abut Okanagan Lake.
Since West Kelowna incorporated in 2007, three of the road ends have been turned into full-fledged pocket parks, with amenities such as playgrounds, toilets and picnic tables, and further enhanced with trees, shrubs, flowers and native grasses. Five others have had brush and debris cleared away.
All 29 of the road-ends have been signed, clearly identifying them as public access points to the lake. The work is not without some controversy, since neighbouring property owners, in some places, have encroached on the public land with fences or bushes, and trees that make access difficult.
"But all these road ends are public property, and our council has been very clear that opening them up for public use is one of our priorities," Findlater said.
"We get the odd complaint, but in the end the people realize they've encroached on public land and don't have a very strong case to make," he said.
Fully-developed pocket parks, like Osprey and Paddlewheeler Park on Pritchard Drive, cost about $100,000 to develop. Along with the obvious amenities, new parks in West Kelowna include rain gauges embedded in the soil.
The devices are linked by radio to a sophisticated weather monitoring station that can adjust sprinkler times and water volumes.
"So you won't see the sprinklers going in the middle of a rainstorm anymore," West Kelowna parks manager Stacy Harding said. "It'll make for a significant reduction in water use by our parks department."