Parking concerns are springing up with the increasing popularity of the Okanagan Rail Trail.
The arrival of spring on Monday and warmer weather is drawing more and more people out to use the trail for walking, cycling and running. But limited places to park at the trail head means nearby roads are clogging up with vehicles – causing issues for residents and nearby facilities.
“The Kalamalka Country Club, as an owner of property adjacent to the new trail, is concerned that use of the trail doesn’t conflict with the use of our property,” said club president Don Seaton.
“We celebrate the recreational possibilities offered by the trail. However the municipalities must supply adequate parking, garbage and recycling receptacles, and public washrooms. These amenities can not fall on the shoulders of adjacent property owners.”
Coldstream is hoping to address the issue and one option is the recently acquired lot between Dutch’s Campground and the Alpine Centre. Work will begin this year to clear the site which would make room for people to park there.
“Both council and staff are very aware of issues surrounding parking and the impact that the new Okanagan Rail Trail will have on the surrounding community. Currently council has purchased a lot at 16506 Kalamalka Road and is looking at possibilities for future development, which may include parking,” said Michael Baker, Coldstream’s director of infrastructure services. “At this time, we are trying to deal with this by managing the issue as an entire community and not dealing with one off requests. We are trying to mitigate major issues before they arise.”
The Kal Road site which could be converted to a parking facility is approximately 4,500m2 in size and would allow for approximately 130 parking stalls. But council is cautious moving ahead as not to disrupt future development plans. The Kalamalka Road closure over the summer is another issue.
“I really see this year as a strange one because of the closure of Kal Road,” said Coun. Richard Enns.
The Kal Beach parking lot is also available for parking.
But the majority of those accessing the trail are, and will continue to, park in the Westkal Road/Kickwillie Loop area and Mile 88, as they are the easy entry points to the Rail Trail. As the weather becomes warmer, parking will become even more congested on Westkal as the Kalamalka Country Club opens for the season.
The club has its own parking lot, but during the busy summer months it fills up quickly and street parking is necessary to accommodate all members.
“The Kal Club wants to be a good neighbour but also wants to allow its members their historic access to the lakefront,” said Seaton. “We hope a healthy dialogue with Coldstream will end in a solution that works for our members and the public.”
There has also been discussion through a North Okanagan Regional District initiative that parking might become available at the Kal Lake Lookout and along the former provincial highway.