Quietly, over the past year, citizens of Armstrong have come together to beautify a particular area in town.
Volunteers, friends, family and strangers have joined Armstrong’s Van Diest family in clearing an area between Pleasant Valley Road and Rosedale Avenue that was once full of brush, bramble, decaying trees and hard gravel on an uneven surface, and transforming it into a walking trail.
It’s the area where, on Halloween night 2011, 18-year-old Taylor Van Diest was found severely injured after an attack by an assailant. Van Diest died early on Nov. 1, 2011 from her injuries. A man was arrested six months later and awaits trial for her murder.
It was Taylor’s family who came up with the idea for the Taylor Jade Van Diest Memorial Trail, which officially opens at 11 a.m. Sunday.
With help from the city, cooperation of Kelowna Pacific Railway which runs right beside the trail, and the generosity of businesses, community groups and volunteer labour, the trail is paved, has fencing, a memorial bench, memorial signs, plants, shrubs and, soon, lighting.
The goal was to make the trail a safe place for everybody in the city to walk, and that has certainly been accomplished.
It’s a wonderful addition to a city that puts a great emphasis on walking activities and green space.
The public is welcome to attend the official opening. A barbecue by donation will be operated by M&M Meat Shops.
Marie Van Diest, Taylor’s mom, believes her daughter would not have liked the attention drawn to her, but she would have liked the trail, she joked, as it would have made it easier for her to send text messages while walking.
The trail is yet another example of how North Okanagan residents rally for one another.
—The Morning Star