If you go down to a new Poplar Point beach today — expected to be the hottest day of the year so far — you shouldn’t get lost on private property.
The City of Kelowna has improved public access to a 2,600-square-metre, triangle-shaped piece of publicly owned waterfront land at 264 Poplar Point Dr.
Until recently, beach-goers had to slip between a hedge of tall cedars, look for a rough-hewn path and navigate a tricky staircase to reach a pleasant crescent-shaped bay.
“The steps were sort of held in place by a sheet of plywood fastened to some ski poles,” Amy Nyhof, a city parks planner, said Tuesday. “We’ve taken that all out, and redone part of the path and staircase.”
The city has long owned the waterfront property, but it was apparently nearby Poplar Point residents who developed the rudimentary trail to provide public access to the lake.
About one-third of Kelowna’s 30-kilometre-long lakeshore is publicly owned. In addition to large parks such as City Park, Waterfront Park and Boyce-Gyro Beach Park, there are many small pocket parks, sometimes known as road ends, tucked between large waterfront homes.
Last fall, city council decided to spend $115,000 to improve the public’s ability to get to the Poplar Park beach access point, as well as similarly undeveloped municipally owned waterfront lots at Manhattan Point, Bluebird Beach and Cedar Avenue.
The Poplar Point beach has a north-facing aspect, so it should be fairly cool on hot summer afternoons, and it’s fairly well isolated from neighbouring properties because of rock outcroppings.
Parking is available for only four cars, but it can also be easily reached from the nearby and well-travelled hiking path to Paul’s Tomb at the base of Knox Mountain.
While path access has already been approved, a sign at 264 Poplar Point Dr. indicating people can reach the water at that location will go up in a week or so.
That should reduce the kind of complaint the city has occasionally fielded from property owners to the north and south.
“We sometimes get calls from them, complaining about people wandering down their driveway, looking for a way to get to the public beach,” Nyhof said.
Kelowna is in for a long stretch of sunny, fine weather, with a forecast high of 31 C today and temperatures in the upper 20s for the next week.