Battle brewing over potential sale of public beach

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Battle brewing over potential sale of public beach

Some residents in Lake Country are voicing their anger, as the local council considers selling a portion of public beachfront to private homeowners for $1.34 million.

Council members recently took part in closed door meetings with three different homeowners to discuss the possibility of selling the land in question along Okanagan Lake near Carr's Landing.

"I was quite shocked that this beautiful public beach is now on the potential sale table," said resident Marie Molloy, who walks her dog along the beach and frequents it with out-of-town visitors.

"It certainly wasn't something that was discussed with us as citizens."

The 210-metre-long stretch of shoreline near the end of Gable Road is currently open to the public for recreational use. If sold, the homeowners could erect private docks along the shoreline and alter the landscape.

'There has been no sale completed to date'

Resident Kent Black shot a drone video of the beach and posted it to YouTube:

The District of Lake Country stressed so far no decisions have been made.

"There has been no sale completed to date, just the actual negotiations," said Matt Vader, manager of strategic and support services with the district.

"It's mayor and council's discretion to make these decisions, listening to the public and balancing what they believe is the community interest."

Vader said money from a potential sale could be used to purchase land for the Okanagan Rail Trail development, a walking and cycling patch that will connect Kelowna to Vernon. 

Residents encouraged to offer feedback

Molloy said she is in favour of the rail trail project but wonders if the funds can be found somewhere else.

"Economically, it makes total sense, but is that how we live? Do we not value [the beach] as a natural resource, as a beautiful place to retain for future generations?" she said.

A group of concerned residents has started a Facebook group called Save Gable Beach.

The district will be posting public notices about the potential sale and is encouraging residents to offer feedback.

The issue will be discussed at a future council meeting.

With files from the CBC's Brady Strachan.