In a normal summer, tourists and locals would be enjoying the splash park and playground in Vernon’s Polson Park.
But not in the summer of 2020.
Both remain closed, as do the neighbouring washroom facilities, the result of water stagnation beside the playground and washrooms.
“The province is still releasing water from Kalamalka Lake at a high pace, therefore high water levels have not dropped in the (Vernon) creek (at least going through Polson Park),” said City of Vernon communications and grant manager Christy Poirier. “The ground in the area is saturated and has a clay soil profile. Polson Park is a floodplain.”
Poirier said the playground area was flooded for quite awhile in approximately 2014, but Polson Park was then under the jurisdiction of the Regional District of North Okanagan.
The playground and splash park can’t reopen until the water around the playground is clear of standing water, and the ground needs to be firm for the city’s mowers to cut the grass properly.
The grass is quite high in that specific area.
Vernon council was made aware of the issue at its one regular meeting in July.
“City of Vernon operations has seen and continues to see high levels of groundwater in Polson Park this year,” said the city in a report to council. “The parks department has fenced off large portions of the park by the playground and splash pad. These areas are still closed due to large amounts of standing water. Park operators are trying their best to maintain public expectations in the park however they are finding it difficult to cut the grass in various locations.”
The report added the city has been emptying the lower duck pond more often and for longer periods of time, based on a 2018 preliminary review and date on a groundwater investigation study and consultant’s potential mitigation options.
The city emptied the Japanese Gardens pond on July 14 to passively lower the groundwater levels in the park in hopes to allow ponding water to more easily infiltrate into the ground.
“Our parks department is monitoring the park closely,” said Poirier.