15 July 2011
Sometime in Penticton’s past, the meandering Okanagan River, which sprawled over quite a bit of territory and had a habit of flooding its banks during spring run-off, was “improved” by Penticton’s city fathers. A straight channel was dug from Okanagan Lake to Skaha Lake, with a dam at the Okanagan Lake end to control water flow. Later, the department of highways took advantage of this straight stretch, and put in a highway bypass, so that travelers would not have to take the leisurely drive through Penticton’s residential areas and downtown core.
Now folks in a rush can speed past Penticton (much to the distress of Penticton’s businesses), and, in the summer, enjoy the sight of countless numbers of more leisurely folks “floating the channel” in all manner of floatable devices.
What almost all of those folks miss, the speedy and the leisurely ones alike, is the remaining ox-bows of the Okanagan River, on the opposite side of the highway bypass. This really is a pity, because these cut-off bits of the river have become home to a wonderful variety of plants and waterfowl, as well as providing a home for many other creatures ranging from small critters like marmots, to larger ones like deer.
Today’s snapshots provide you a glimpse of some of the beauty you’ll find if you take an east turn off the bypass (at Green Road or Warren Avenue, for example), turn onto the first side street you come to, park your vehicle, and find your way through paths to the oxbows on the east side of the bypass. Enjoy!
May 28, 2011
One of Penticton’s favorite tourist activities is a lazy summer afternoon’s float down the “Channel Parkway” – which is, in reality, the Okanagan River. Back in the day, the river meandered here and there across the low-lying areas between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake. While this was very picturesque and natural, it unfortunately occupied a rather large portion of the limited amount of land. And as rivers are wont to do, the meanders had a tendency to change their courses over time, as well as flood occasionally.
Thus, the fathers of Penticton, in their infinite wisdom, chose to create a nice straight channel from one lake to the other, cutting off those nuisancy (is that a word?) oxbows. This created an excellent stretch of slowly flowing water for channel-floaters, with a nice straight stretch to put in a highway bypass for those in too much of a hurry to drive through town. The cut-off oxbows have also created a narrow “green space” between the highway and Penticton’s western residential areas, much appreciated by local waterfowl looking for nesting grounds and mosquitoes in search of still water in which to deposit their larvae.
These ox-bows are also a great place for a pleasant walk on a lazy afternoon. The area featured in today’s photos is easily accessed by walking to the western end of Kinney Avenue, and then either turning south along a shady trail, or if you are a wee bit more adventuresome, trekking north through dimly marked footpaths. There is also, incongruously, a gate along the metal fence on the west side of the trail, and if you go through it, and scramble up a small slope, you’ll find yourself standing on the edge of the highway.
At any rate, whether you choose north or south, you’ll be surprised at how peaceful and wild this little green space, tucked between residential areas and a busy highway, truly is. Here’s a sample of what you’ll see.
May 27, 2011
Penticton has so many wonderful hidden green spaces and unexpected trails tucked away unexpectedly among residential and commercial neighborhoods alike.
Today’s hidden green space is just a few blocks southwest of Cherry Lane Mall, tucked into a residential neighborhood with apartment buildings on the east, townhouses on the west, and singlefamily homes north and south. Access trails are on Kinney Avenue near Baskin Street (next to Greystone Terrace apartments), and from Baskin Crescent just off Baskin Street.
The green space itself has only one narrow winding footpath along its western edge, and the rest is a surprisingly wild tangle of trees and wild rose bushes, surrounded by knee deep meadow grasses that wave gently in the breeze. The surrounding residences seem to have turned their backs on this little bit of nature, with tall cement walls, and graffiti-strewn fences keeping civilized folks safe from this wild spot. On the other hand, at least one of the local residents has seen the beauty of this green space. A gate leads out of their yard, and passing under an arbour, they can slip into the meadow; they’ve even put out a bench where they can sit and enjoy. Good for you, whoever you are!
A picture is worth a thousand words, so without more ado, here is a taste of this hidden bit of nature in Penticton.
May 23, 2011
One of the great advantages of being a pedestrian rather than zooming along hiding behind the wheel of your car, is that as you meander along you have opportunity to discover lovely unexpected trails and green spaces. This particular lush green trail area is hidden away between multi-story apartment buildings. To find it, start at the bus stop behind Cherry Lane Mall on Atkinson Street. Cross the street and look for the brand new trail entry next to the Excelsior condo tower. Wander along the trail until you reach the other end by the BMX park next to Lion’s Park (off Warren Avenue). Take a picnic lunch along and enjoy it on the tables in the park. Many folks bring their children to play in the playground – without realizing that such a wonderful “forest” is right there – a place of adventure and imagination for little ones, and peace and beauty for elders. It is indeed amazing that such an untouched natural green space could be hiding among all those towers and parking lots.