Trail improvements get provincial funds

A funding announcement is close for upgrades to a rail trail in the South Okanagan.

I can recall back in the early spring of 2004 running into three youth skateboarders in the early evening who were out enjoying the terrain around a Penticton commercial building that had closed for business for the day.

I had a chance to have a brief conversation with them and the one wish they all shared was for a proper skateboarding venue that they could all enjoy.

It was not long after that a delegation of local youth led by Janine Sentes began working on a dream to see a proper skate park built somewhere within the city.

Former Penticton Mayor David Perry, council and staff were keen to work with this group and soon a location had been identified and funding was the last major hurdle.

Fortunately at that time working with my now-retired colleague Rick Thorpe, when attempting to secure provincial funding of $9.7 million towards the SOEC facility, we were also able to secure close to $400,000 to fund construction of the new Penticton skate park.

The Penticton skate park as we now know has been a huge success and has kept hundreds of kids active and engaged in the great outdoors.

In terms of government spending, this funding has gone a long way in helping to promote physical fitness and active healthy living.

I was reminded of the Penticton Skate Park this past week with some similar announcements that I believe will also be a great investment in helping to promote healthy active outdoor activities.

The first funding announcement is for close to $140,000 in upgrades for the Kettle Valley rail trail near Vancouver Hill.

While $140,000 does not go far in road construction, for a trail this can fund five and a half kilometers of improvements.

These improvements will also increase accessibility for people with wheelchairs, mobility aids or strollers and of course young children first starting out to ride.

Another project announced is close to half a million in funding to create a new pedestrian trail from the foot of West Bench Hill which will connect residents to the elementary school, community parks, linear Kettle Valley Rail corridor and the City of Penticton.

This will be a great new addition to the existing trail network in the area as there is currently no existing pedestrian corridor to link these areas together and this will provide safe pedestrian access.

These trail corridor improvements need your support. With spring fast approaching now is the perfect time to get out your walking shoes and take in a new area of the community.

On a different theme late last week I was pleased to announce two funding grants for local organizations to help combat crime.

The grants were modest, totalling just over $24,000; however, what was notable is that the funding source of the grants was money obtained through the proceeds of crime legislation.In other words funds recovered from the proceeds of crime are now being used in communities across British Columbia to help support crime reduction strategies.

I would like to congratulate the Penticton Vees on moving into the second round of the BCHL playoffs. Go Vees Go!

Bill Barisoff is MLA for Penticton.


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