Lots of people like to paddle their canoes and kayaks on Okanagan Lake.
Now they have a 27-kilometre paddle “trail” on the water to follow, stretching from Bertram Creek Park and McKinley Beach.
The trail, which will officially open May 19, consists of 22 specially marked buoys, indicating distance, rest stops along the route and other information. On the rest stop beaches, signs will be posted about the paddle trail and facilities where kayaks and canoes an be secured.
“The paddle trail is an amazing legacy for our community,” said Mariko Siggers, City of Kelowna community and neighbourhood services manager.
“We were excited to add it into our extensive network of Active by Nature trails to be enjoyed by residents and visitors.”
While the city funded the trail through a grant, Siggers said the idea came from local resident Brad Dahl.
He said idea came to him four years ago when he was helping develop a community park in his McKinley Landing neighbourhood.
He was part of a group who went out in kayaks on the lake to look at the lakeshore from a different perspective and ran into a friend who had been out for several hours on the water.
In talking to his friend, it became clear to him what would be great would be to have a marked trail on the water along Kelowna’s lakeshore.
After researching and working on the idea for a few years, he approached the city and joined forces with the local Dragon Boat Society. The society applied for the city grant and work started.
The city has now taken over the project.
Dahl said the trail is close to the shore and open to all level of paddlers.
” I joke that its for people who buy their Kayaks from Costco,” said Dahl.
“I wanted it to be a project that shows the lake is for everybody.”
Neither Dahl nor Siggers know of a similar paddle trail in B.C.
There is a trail for serious kayaks off the west coast of Vancouver Island but it is much longer and for experienced paddlers.
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A paddle trail around Lake Tahoe was the model Siggers said Kelowna’s trail followed, complete with rest stops and way-finding buoys.
Originally, the city set aside $10,000 to the first phase of development of the trail but council opted last year to fund it all at one time. It added $50,000 to the budget but Siggers said the entire $65,000 will likely not have to be used.
On May 19, the official grand opening of the Kelowna Paddle Trail will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and will feature what is hoped will be Kelowna’s largest flotilla, or water parade.
The approximately 27-kilometre trail is described as a unique way to explore the lake and offer a fun way to visit some of Kelowna’s beaches and parks.
Paddlers with all forms of non-motorized watercrafts—and all skill levels—are encouraged to join the flotilla. Interested participants will meet at Hot Sands Beach in City Park (near the tunnel) by 9 a.m. The flotilla will depart immediately after the ribbon cutting ceremony and parade down the lake front before turning around at Waterfront Park and returning to City Park—an approximately 2.5 kilometre round-trip.
“The event will be a celebration of the lake and non-motorized water activities that promote physical activity,” said Siggers. “It’s a wonderful community driven event featuring many different organizations that have come together to help educate our city about the great opportunities for fun and safe lake activities.”
The event will be hosted by the City of Kelowna in partnership with Kelowna Dragon Boat Club, Central Okanagan Regional District, Kelowna Canoe & Kayak Club, CRIS Adaptive Adventures, Okanagan Dragon Boat Racing Club, Bust ‘N Loose – Kelowna Breast Cancer Paddling Team, Kelowna Rowing Club and the Kelowna Paddle Centre.
Following the flotilla, event participants will have the opportunity to try different paddle sports for free, watch races and demonstrations, and learn about water safety from 9 a.m. until noon, all in City Park.
CRIS Adaptive Adventures will also be there with adaptive equipment options for people with diverse abilities.
“Breaking down perceived barriers for people with disabilities is what we do. Come adventure outside with us on the Paddle Trail,” said Dawn Widdifield, CRIS Adaptive Adventures executive director.
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