Work on Penticton waterfront brings improvements

Loss of shade trees is an unfortunate, but necessary, step to improve access along Okanagan Lake shoreline

Changes to the Okanagan Lake waterfront in Penticton are promising a long, hot summer for residents and visitors to the Peach City.

Work began this month on the $2.125 million project to redevelop the beach and walkway along Lakeshore Drive from the Peach to the SS Sicamous. The most visible sign of the project came in the prep work at the end of March, when 20 of the large trees along the southern shores of Okanagan Lake were removed.

The city will be replacing the trees, planting two for every one removed, but it will be more than a decade before the new trees grow to the size that will replicate the shade and beauty previously found along the city’s waterfront.

Replacing the trees with anything larger than the six- to eight-foot varieties now planned would not be cost effective or beneficial to the long-term health of the trees.

While it may be sad to see the mature trees removed from the beach, it is the price that had to be paid for the much-needed upgrade.

The project calls for a new four-metre-wide walkway running from the Sicamous to the Peach, greater accessibility to the beach and amenities for mobility-challenged users, and enhanced street lighting along the walkway with energy-efficient LED lighting. Work on the project will shut down for the summer in mid-June, with work starting up again in the fall and expected to be complete in November.

These changes promise to enhance the enjoyment of beach-goers and open up the beach to a greater segment of the population. The loss of a little shade seems to be a small price to pay.

And who knows, the changes could even open up a new business opportunity for beach umbrellas.