For the past 16 months, Kim and I have been walking the streets of Summerland.
At the beginning of 2019, we set a goal to walk every street in this community, and now we are just a couple of weeks away from completing this goal.
My estimate is that there are more than 300 kilometres for us to walk. That’s a lot of walking.
At the end of each walk, we’ve marked our routes on a map.
The inspiration for this goal came from friends of ours in Penticton, who had earlier set out the goal of walking every street in that city.
Penticton is significantly more populous than Summerland, but Summerland covers a larger geographic area, and some of the streets here are quite long. Garnet Valley Road, for instance, is not a street to be completed in a single evening.
Some of these streets will work as part of a short loop or circuit, but there are also quite a few dead end streets.
During our walks, we’ve discovered some stunning vistas and we’ve seen some new sights along the way.
We’ve learned that while there are some beautiful lakeside walks, we have also had to conquer some rather steep climbs.
Morrow Avenue and Taylor Place are a couple of the worst, but they are not the only hilly streets in Summerland. Canyon View Road is no picnic either.
Our walking goal has shown us a lot about our community, its history and its geography.
Many streets, although not all, are named in honour of the families who settled here from the 1880s to the 1920s.
The Streets of Summerland, compiled by F.C. Storey and published by the Summerland Museum Society in the mid-1970s, tells the stories behind the streets named after people.
This book also mentions Belvedere Place, a street named after a cigarette package which had been picked up there by a municipal employee.
(We were on this street just the other day, and we didn’t see any cigarette packages, or any other litter for that matter.)
Walking along these streets has given us a new appreciation and understanding of our community.
During this time of physical distancing requirements and directives to avoid non-essential travel, walking in our own community has been a good way to stay active and take a break during this chaotic time.
Because we are on a lot of quieter side streets, we have been able to get out for fresh air while avoiding busier areas.
More importantly, we have learned there is much for us to see, right here where we live.
The top of Giant’s Head Mountain has a great viewpoint, with amazing vistas in every direction.
The lakeshore pathway, while still showing the effects of the devastating floods of 2017 and 2018, offers a close-up view of Okanagan Lake.
The downtown core and the surrounding residential streets offer a relatively flat walking experience.
We’ve discovered our community in a new way, but every city, town and village in our region has its own amazing places to see and explore.
Each summer, visitors from around the province and around the world come to the Okanagan Valley to discover what he have to offer.
This year, it’s our turn.
The directives to stay close to home and avoid unnecessary travel during the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen as an opportunity for us to get out and see the hidden gems in our own communities and in our own region.
I’m ready to lace up my shoes and head out for another walk.
John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.
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