In July we visited a newly opened mega-development in our area called Kelowna Mountain. It’s located just outside the City of Kelowna’s boundaries, near Kettle Valley and has been several years in the making. We’d heard plenty of rumours about it, some controversial, so once it opened to the public, we decided to check it out for ourselves.
Of course, just about anything we do involves an adventure and this day was no different. We didn’t know exactly where the development was located and their website was vague on directions, so I used Google maps and did the best I could to figure out how to get there.
Carefully following my written directions, we drove through Kettle Valley and eventually began travelling up Chute Lake Road. Over and over, as the road grew increasingly rough, I commented on the fact that this didn’t look promising and if it was indeed the road to the development, they had a lot of upgrading to do. The drive offered some incredible views of Lake Okanagan however.
The road eventually became little more than a climbing goat trail and, thankful we were in our truck rather than the Fusion, we realized we needed to go back down. The road was narrow and the drop over the side was steep, and the thought of turning around on it filled me with an all-consuming terror. Hubby picked a likely spot where the road widened (slightly), but before he could make the turn, I insisted on getting out. Irrational or not, I couldn’t stay in the truck while he negotiated what to my mind was an impossibly tight turn. Hubby humoured me by letting me out, then passive-aggressively made me walk quite a ways down the hill to where he eventually stopped the truck and waited for me. Hey, I like walking. No biggie.
We stopped at a coffee shop in Kettle Valley to get directions. Judging by the practiced spiel of the young girl behind the counter, we weren’t the first lost souls needing assistance. Following our new directions, we soon and easily arrived at our destination.
Kelowna Mountain is situated on 640 acres of land on Kelowna’s south slopes. These same slopes that were badly burned in the massive wildfires of 2003, which claimed well over 200 houses and destroyed several of our heritage trestles. The land on which this new development stands saw incredible damage from the fire. There’s little of anything green to be seen. The area is starkly sparse and peppered with the blackened carcasses of burnt trees. It still needs massive amounts of work and planting to revive it.
However, the man-made structures are all rather spectacular in scope. These include:
An 800-seat amphitheatre, striking, with an abundance of marble and chandeliers, and a breathtaking view of Lake Okanagan. I can imagine this being a venue for many an upcoming wedding.
Even the bathroom sinks were unusual and unique.
Four suspension bridges—the longest set of pedestrian suspension bridges in the world—walkways along the cliffs, viewing platforms, ski runs, ski towers with lifts, although the runs and lifts aren’t currently operational.
There’s also a cave of sorts, complete with its own chandelier.
A little waterfall
A man-made lagoon with a walking path around it. I could see that it contains koi fish, unfortunately I found the water murky and unattractive.
The start of a vineyard and walking trails. And of course, outstanding vista views of the lake and Kelowna viewable from a variety of platforms.
Because the bridges, themselves, don’t span anything of interest, they didn’t hold as much appeal to me as the Capilano Suspension Bridge or the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge, both located in lush rain forests on the BC’s west coast.
As much as Kelowna Mountain still needs a ton of work, I have to admire the scope of developer, Mark Consiglio’s vision. Despite not having the support of the City of Kelowna or the Regional District he has continued to spend massive amounts of effort and money in the pursuit of his dreams for the property. His plans include an icewine business, a year-round snowboarding facility, conference centre, vineyard, golf course, a trail system, with the suspension bridges as a main attraction, as well as the possibility of a housing project.
I wish him much luck.
If interested, you can read more of Kelowna Mountain’s trials and tribulations in the following newspaper articles:
In a push to get this first draft done, I’ve written 8889 words this week and my wip stands at 54,662 words. Only two more scenes to go!!