The newest view of Okanagan Lake, Marina Way Lookout, officially opened on Thursday.
“The Marina Way Lookout project is another achievement in council’s waterfront enhancement strategic priority,” said Deputy Mayor Helena Konanz. “Residents and visitors can now enjoy more green space, restored ecological habitat and a tranquil place for people to enjoy the Okanagan Lake view.”
The project vision was to transform an abandoned peninsula, just east of the Penticton Art Gallery, formerly used as a Canadian National Railway loading dock, into a naturalized park area that restores Okanagan Lake riparian habitat, improves urban forest and enhances the environment.
Originally constructed in 1925, the former dock was used by CNR to transport fruit and assorted goods from the lakeshore packing houses, which were loaded onto railcars, pulled to a loading dock by a truck and eventually loaded onto barges for transportation up Okanagan Lake. As with many growing communities the railway played a key role in the economic and cultural development of the community. CNR continued to use the rails and dock until 1975. The site was then left undeveloped and has served as an informal parking lot for beach visitors.
The space adds 1,000 square metres of habitat, new benches and a gravel path to allow visitors a clear vantage point of Okanagan Lake. A section of rail lines have been installed to mark the significance of the area, and interpretive signs will be set up in the coming months.
The original concept plan included the installation of a flatbed rail car to add to the historical setting, but Penticton Museum and Archives Curator Peter Ord said that was dropped.
The cost of installing a rail car, accessibility and whether it would conflict with the overall goal of restoring natural habitat in the park were all factors in the decision, he said.
Instead, along with the rail lines, the park features a boardwalk, reminiscent of a station platform that will act as a lookout area.
The official opening is held Thursday, Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. with brief speeches, followed by a free historical walking tour by Penticton Museum and Archives curator Peter Ord.