Cycling enthusiasts are overjoyed with the recent announcement from the provincial government that a new lakeside trail system is coming to Summerland.
The province will be working with the District of Summerland and area trail-advocacy groups to construct the Summerland Lakeshore Pathway, the newest addition to Summerland’s trail system.
The province has promised $420,000 to be added to the District of Summerland's $80,000 to built a $500,000 one-kilometre trail adjacent to Highway 97 between Lakeshore Drive and Illahie Beach.
Trail of the Okanagans is a society that was formed about a year ago, with a mission to collaborate in the development of a interconnected recreational pathway for the South Okanagan from Osoyoos to Summerland.
Society chair, Connie Denesiuk says this announcement is a significant boost to their mission.
“This is significant because it is far more than just one pathway, it is an integral park of a longer line or corridor up and down the valley from Osoyoos right up to Summerland,” says Denesiuk.
She says as it stands there is a 'spine' of recreational trails from run between Osoyoos and Summerland but they contain many 'pinch points' which prevent the trails from connecting continuously which is what they want to change.
“We as a society are looking at those pinch points and trying to determine how we can help to open those areas up through government support, partnerships and whatever it will take to build a continuous corridor,” says Denesiuk.
She feels this Summerland project can help them bring the rest of their vision to fruition.
“The bigger picture is that that pathway (which is a bit of a pilot because it has not be done before) once complete we will be able to learn from this pilot and continue to lakeside pathways from Trout Creek all the way into Penticton.”
Denesiuk says the Trail of the Okanagans Society strongly believes cycling is the tourism future and we need to prepare.
“They call cycling the new golf, so we anticipate that there will be significant numbers of cyclists in the next while that are coming to the area and we want to be ready for them!”
Engineering design work has been initiated for the separated pathway along the lakeside in Summerland which will provide pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motorized vehicle users an alternative and more sustainable travel option.
The province anticipates construction of the trail could start as early as spring of 2015.