The nudists are coming! The nudists are coming!
Now that I’ve got your attention…
Yes, those people who like to doff their clothes and hang out, so to speak, at Wreck beach had an audience with Metro Vancouver’s environment and parks committee Sept. 11.
Before I tell you why, I’d just like to apologize for my use of the word “nudist” when I’m told by people in the know that “naturalist” is the preferred description by naked folk.
So here we go…
Naturalists Cecile Bruyninckx and Judy Williams of the Wreck Beach Preservation Society want boaters and jet skiers to find another place to party than on the shores of the trail six section at the city’s popular nude beach.
In a letter to the committee, Bruyninckx said the society has “deep concerns regarding gas emissions and release of raw hydrocarbon fuel” by the increasing number of boats and jets skis.
The society is also worried about the safety of swimmers who are not always easily seen by operators of the boats and jet skis. A complete ban of the marine craft in the offshore area would be the best solution, the society believes.
In an interview prior to the meeting, Bruyninckx said she can’t explain the popularity of boaters being drawn to the location but acknowledged gawking at naturalists is likely one of the reasons. The fact the area is secluded, has no lifeguard on the beach and is not regularly patrolled by any authorities are other factors, she said.
In one incident this summer, a naturalist who swam out to one of the boats in an effort to get the boaters’ music turned down had bottles thrown at him, said Bruyninckx, a 14-year veteran of the beach. “Most of the people on the beach just want to hear the waves and relax,” she said. “If you have techno music playing for hours and hours in the afternoon, sometimes it’s difficult for people.”
For the past decade, Bruyninckx said, maybe four to five boats a day would drop anchor off the shore. That number has increased to 20 or more boats over the past two years, she said. “Recently, a man had heatstroke and had to be evacuated by the Coast Guard hovercraft,” she said. “And the hovercraft had to manoeuvre a lot to make her way between boats. If someone had something more serious like a heart attack, that person would have died because it took a long time for the evacuation.”
Bruyninckx said she hopes the environment committee will clarify whose responsibility it is to enforce marine laws in the waters at the beach and request some action.
Is it the Coast Guard? The Vancouver Police Department? Department of Fisheries and Oceans? Park board? Metro parks? Feds? Province? City?
For the record, she said, she and Williams aren’t the only naturalists making noise about this. She said more than 2,500 names were collected on a petition that was expected to be circulated at the Sept. 11 meeting.
Vision Vancouver Coun. Heather Deal is Vancouver’s representative on the environment committee. She’s also a former park board commissioner.
So what’s she think of the naturalists’ concerns?
I called her Friday and sent her an email but as of Tuesday morning, I hadn’t received a reply. I’m sure she’s on the case and will have something to say at the meeting, which was scheduled to run until 4:30 p.m., after the Courier’s deadline.
But with summer over and the weather not exactly conducive to a birthday suit stroll on the beach—or a trip on a jet ski, for that matter—the issue may literally get washed out until the hot weather returns next year.