Fence removal prompts security concerns at Kelowna beach

Some area residents are unhappy with the removal of a fence surrounding Sarsons Beach Park

Changes to Sarsons Beach Park in Kelowna are underway.

But, according to a report headed to city council next week, some residents are unhappy with the changes.

The primary area of concern is the removal of a 1.8-metre tall chainlink fence surrounding the park and the gate that closes off the parking lot at night.

The report doesn’t delve into the residents’ specific comments but the city said the removal of the fence will not negatively impact security at the park.

“A chain-link fence across a park frontage unfortunately provides a false sense of security,” said park planner Melanie Steppuhn. “While it prevents the majority of law-abiding residents from entering, it actually creates very little obstacle for someone intent on entering the park to either party or break and enter a property from the waterfront. Once in, it provides greater confidence as they know they will be left undisturbed.”

The current gate would be replaced by a vehicle gate, similar to other parks along Kelowna’s waterfront.

The expansion also includes the removal of a centrally located hedge, opening up the turf space to the north, removing the house at 381 Hobson Crescent, and replacing that space with irrigated turf. The design focused on opening up sight lines, including removing obstructions that could hide potential party areas.

“With the property demolished, car headlights coming down Sarsons Road will shine directly into the park, and because this is unpredictable, create a greater deterrent,” said Steppuhn.

According to the report, the city wants its waterfront parks to be both visually and physically open to the public.

“Opening up valuable views of the lake at different parks across the city without being obscured by fencing is part of that celebration of our parks,” said Steppuhn. “With the demolition of the house, the approach down Sarsons Road will now have a direct open lawn view through the park out to the lake. We intentionally kept the existing parking configuration partly to achieve this view.”

The city purchased 381 Hobson Crescent in 2008 with the intention of adding the property to Sarsons Beach Park. This year, council approved $230,000 in the provisional budget to undertake improvements to remove the house and integrate the property into park use.

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