Plans underway for new Vernon park

Public input is the next step in planning for a proposed nature park at the north end of Vernon.

Public input is the next step in planning for a proposed nature park at the north end of Vernon.

The North Okanagan Regional District will hold an open house Feb. 23 to get public feedback on the concept plan for a 2.36-hectare park at Deleenheer Road and 20th Street, near Wal-Mart.

“It’s fantastic,” said director Patrick Nicol of the plan.

The concept calls for a natural park area, including the creation of two wetlands, one for hands-on interpretation with a semi-sheltered gathering area and the other to remain in an undisturbed state.

“The re-vegetation, along with built-up berms through the site, will allow for shelter for a greater diverse population of wildlife and habitat,” said planner Keith Pinkoski in a written memo.

In 2008, a section of BX Creek trail was constructed through the property to connect 48th Avenue to the frontage road at Royal Volkswagen.

Nicol believes the proposed park could have a significant benefit for local children.

“Harwood Elementary School is close and it could work out well for school tours,” he said.

“It will be a unique ecosystem that is improved.”

Paula Harned, a Vernon School District trustee, is also supportive of enhanced ecosystem opportunities for students.

“What we provide for their education now continues with their desire into the future,” she said.

Nicol is urging residents to participate in the process.

“Hopefully those in the Harwood school neighbourhood will have an opportunity to comment,” he said.

The plan is part of an initiative involving NORD and the Allan Brooks Nature Centre.

In 2010, the ANBC received a $5,000 government grant to create wetlands, incorporate interpretive signage and development educational material to increase awareness about wetlands.

“All funds required to create the small, interpretive wetlands would come out of the funding received by the Allan Brooks Nature Centre,” said Pinkoski.

It’s anticipated the wetland work could be done by April 22. Other enhancements will be considered as part of NORD’s 2012 budget.

The Feb. 23 open house will run from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Vernon Recreation Complex auditorium.