When Walley Lightbody, 86, decided it was time to list his Kelowna waterfront property for sale, he had a particular buyer in mind.
Lightbody, a retired lawyer who has long supported heritage preservation efforts and hospital-related fundraising causes, hoped the City of Kelowna would become the new owner of the nearly one-acre property at 2302 Abbott St.
"I really didn't want to sell to developers so they could put up big condos or whatever," Lightbody said Thursday in an interview. "It was always my family's intention that, when the time came, that this property would be bought by the city so that the people of Kelowna could enjoy it."
The city has indeed bought Lightbody's property for the market value of $5.3 million.
It will eventually be used for the expansion of the adjacent Strathcona Beach Park though Lightbody will continue living there for now, in a 1939 Cape Cod-style home built by his father-in-law Dr. Walter Anderson, as a tenant of the city.
Lightbody graduated from UBC in 1956 and had a four-decade career as a lawyer, including appointment as a Queen's Counsel in 1985.
He has had leadership roles in groups that champion environmental causes and heritage preservation, and he set up a scholarship fund for Okanagan residents who pursue a law degree at UBC in Vancouver.
For 17 years, he and his late wife Marietta hosted a celebrity tennis and bocce tournament at their property, raising more than $600,000 for Kelowna General Hospital, which is located directly across Abbott Street.
Lightbody and Marietta were joint winners in 2013 of the UBC Okanagan Alumni Community Builder Award, an honour given to those "who have made and continue to make a difference locally, regionally, or globally."
In the interview Thursday, Lightbody recalled that many people thought it unusual his family would build such a substantial house, of 2,700 sq.-ft., so close to the water in 1939.
"They thought my father-in-law was crazy. You have to remember, those were the days before the level of Okanagan Lake could be controlled, and there was often serious flooding every spring," he said. "I have pictures of Marietta and her mother paddling a canoe around the house."
Construction of the Okanagan River drainage channel in the mid-50s eliminated most flooding problems, and made lakeside living much more desirable.
Lightbody is pleased the sale of the property to the city allows him to continue living there for the foreseeable future. "I'll be here for the rest of my days," he said.