New walking paths are ready for foot traffic at Vernon’s Sandy Beach on Okanagan Lake.
In July, an agreement was struck between the Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) and the Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) for the district to take over maintenance of the popular beach.
Located between Vernon Creek and Kin Beach on OKIB land, the beach has had past problems with littering and illegal campfires. Recent months have seen the beach cleaned up, with garbage cans and bylaw signs put in place.
More recently, a raised gravel walkway was added above the beach along Lakeshore Road, guarded by concrete barriers.
“The construction of the pathway is now complete and open to the public, which puts a wrap on RDNO’s work for 2020,” the OKIB posted on Facebook Oct. 21.
The beach will be maintained by the RDNO year-round with beach raking in the summer, and kept to the same standard as all other parks and trails in Electoral Areas B and C.
During the winter months, maintenance operations at the beach will be limited to twice weekly garbage and complaint-based bylaw services, the OKIB said.
Sandy Beach now falls under the RDNO’s parks bylaw, allowing the district to enforce against littering, vandalism and bans on dogs and campfires.
The RDNO will begin regular operations next spring, starting with a danger tree assessment and daily beach cleanings, the OKIB said.
Cultural signage will also be installed to give beach-goers a sense of the history of the land.
“Sandy Beach is an important part of a long history of Syilx culture and practice,” OKIB Chief Byron Louis said in July. “Our occupancy and use, such as an important fishery and as a gathering point for our people and visitors, is a matter of public and oral record. Trade and commerce were conducted here, as were celebrations. We are happy to see an agreement that will ensure the beach is maintained to a high standard.”