Attractive Osprey Park, above, on Green Bay in West Kelowna opens today as the municipality keeps spiffing up its lakeshore. However, nothing has been done on a Manhattan Point waterfront property, bought six years ago by the City of Kelowna.
Sandwiched between private residences on Green Bay Road, 15-metre-wide Osprey Park has a freshly planted lawn, scores of new shrubs, grasses and trees, and a blue-and-white, nautical-themed children's playground.
"I think it's going to be a very positive addition to the community," West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater said Wednesday.
After it incorporated in 2007, West Kelowna inherited 29 so-called road ends from the Ministry of Transportation. Many were overgrown with vegetation and had no signage identifying them as beach access points for the public.
Eight of the road ends have since been spiffed up, the new amenities including washrooms, trees and shrubs, picnic benches, climbing structures and well-maintained beaches.
"They're very expensive to do - about $100,000 a shot," Findlater said. "Right now, we're prioritizing their development based on location and how easy they are to improve.
"But I think people are thrilled with getting better public access to the waterfront," he said. "We can't all live on the lake, but people do want to experience the water in a variety of ways."
Meanwhile, in Kelowna, a publicly owned piece of waterfront property remains a fairly grubby affair, six years after being acquired by the city. There are no trees, bushes or flowers on the spacious lakeside lot at the south side of Manhattan Point, and only a few shoots of hardy grass poke through its gravelly expanse.
With views up Okanagan Lake toward Carr's Landing and back toward downtown Kelowna, it would seem to be a prime spot for an attractive new waterfront park, but city officials have no plans to beautify the barren site.
"The property was purchased as a strategic hold for the city," said parks manager Terry Barton.
The city also owns another waterfront property two lots over. Although the lot between the two is on the market, the city hasn't been able to reach an agreement with the owner.
"It's for sale, but at an astronomical price," Barton said. "By no means can the city buy up waterfront land at above-market values, so we just sort of sit and wait."
It wouldn't make much sense to spend significant amounts of money landscaping and improving the Manhattan Point property now, only to have to modify or alter the site when or if the city acquires other waterfront parcels in the area, Barton said.
The City of Kelowna has a long-standing policy of trying to buy waterfront land whenever it comes on the market. Just over 10 kilometres, or about one-third of the entire shoreline, is owned either by the city or the regional district, up from six kilometres in the mid-1990s.
The City of Kelowna has about 35 beach access points that were former road ends, most along Abbott Street and Lakeshore Road. However, few of them have the kind of landscaping and pedestrian amenities now being developed by West Kelowna at its waterfront pocket parks.