Kamloops Naturalist Club envisions nature park on McArthur Island

Kamloops Naturalist Club sees the old golf course as the perfect place for an interpretive nature park

The wood duck is one of many species to be found around McArthur Island and its surroundings. (Tristan Semeniuk/The Omega)

To some, the nine-hole McArthur Island golf course was just that—a nine-hole recreational golf course; but to a great variety of different wildlife species like the great horned owl, they call it home. There is a number of both native plants and animals that live on the site of the old golf course and the fate of the property is still left undecided.

The Kamloops Naturalist Club envisions that the golf course on McArthur Island be turned into an interpretive nature park. The vision is that it would be an open space for wildlife to roam about, as well as for people to get outside and enjoy nature.

The director with the Kamloops Naturalist Club, Jesse Ritcey, told The Omega that the nature park would look somewhat like a normal park, except with educational signs with information about the natural plants and wildlife there, including “the deer, the painted turtles and wood ducks in the pond.”

According to Ritcey, there would also be “a lot of programming”.

“So this would be naturalist club members taking people around to learn about the area and some of the natural history, and then the Rotary West Club has an idea for a historical loop, to learn the history of Kamloops Tk’emlups and a peace park, which is a peaceful place to be in nature and to hang out,” he said.

Ritcey says that the younger generations are starting to lose touch with nature and that the nature park would be a great way to get them back into nature. The public schools, like NorKam Secondary School, could benefit from an interpretive nature park by bringing students there during class to learn about the natural environment.

“Being able to get younger people out there would, I think, improve the stewardship over the environment and improve their connection to the environment. So I think having this here beside so many schools is a really good opportunity if we were to put the learning resources into it and design around the curriculum, work with SD73, I think that opportunity would be terrific.”

City councillor Donovan Cavers, who is running for school board as well as city council, agrees that the school board should get more involved in the project.

“The school board has invested money into things like the McQueen Lake Education Centre up there, so I would like to see the partnership grow beyond the city and include the school district,” Cavers said. “So even have classes and stuff, and actually design it with outdoor education in mind.”

Cavers also mentioned that the interpretive nature park could attract lots of tourists and that it could be good for people that live in Kamloops.

“I think it could be a big tourist draw, but specifically just for the people of Kamloops itself, we have a lot of manicured landscape-like parks, but having naturalized parks like Kenna Cartwright or, this getting re-naturalized, I think there’s a lot of benefit to having passive spaces like that, where people can just kind of go for a wander and clear their head in that sort of recreation, which I think we could have more of,” he said. “We could invest a bit more in that.”

No specific date has been set yet to decide what will happen to the old golf course, but the decision will be made by city council sometime this winter to ensure there is a plan in place before next spring.