There is some relief coming in the form of more parking spots near the Kangaroo Creek Farm in Lake Country for next year.
But it’s going to cost the owners of the farm around $30,000 to renovate a parking lot and lease it from the district next year as well as about $15,000 in each of following two years.
The Kangaroo Creek Farm and the District of Lake Country have entered into a lease agreement for the parking lot at the corner of Main Street and Hill Road in downtown Winfield to create at least 28 parking stalls, the number required of the farm according to bylaws.
Costs to renovate the now-vacant lot will be handled by Kangaroo Creek at an estimated cost of $15,000, said owner Caroline MacPherson.
The lease agreement, she said, will cost the farm $15,000 in each of the three years on top of the dollar amount to get the parking lot up to grade.
Parking at the farm had become an issue due to its phenomenal growth since it opened in 2012. Close to 100,000 visitors travelled Kangaroo Creek this year, with the majority coming in July and August. Many people parked in businesses around the area and along Main Street but district bylaws call for businesses to have their own dedicated lot.
MacPherson says while it’s going to cost them a significant amount, she’s hopeful it eases concerns of anyone who thinks parking was an issue.
“I think it’s positive,” she said.
“We should be able to get at least 30 cars in there and because those spots will be closer to us than the parking lot at the A&W or Coopers or the professional building, then hopefully that will fill up first and will take the pressure off surrounding businesses. Hopefully this will satisfy the district and satisfy those people who are concerned about parking. And it means we are here for the foreseeable future.”
Now closed for the season until spring break of 2016, the Kangaroo Creek Farm has exploded in popularity to become known worldwide and become one of the busiest tourist attractions in the Okanagan Valley.
This year, visitor numbers jumped again, continuing a trend that began after the farm opened in 2012 with about 30,000 visitors.
According to MacPherson, each year the number of visitors to the farm have increased by about one-and-a-half times the previous year. The increase in traffic both in vehicles and on foot has caused a ripple effect, prompting the agreement to open up the parking lot and also leading the farm to charge a fee this past summer for the first time, moving away from its admission by donation business.
MacPherson said an expected increase in traffic next year will likely offset the costs associated with the new parking lot and added she is continually amazed at the popularity of the venture.
“It’s gotten to the point where the farm is a bit of a phenomenon, it’s almost a force unto itself,” she said, noting if the growth in visitors continues over the next two years, they may have to further increase admission, especially in July and August when visitors are close to 90 per cent tourists.