A Kitsilano woman has started a Facebook page and petition dedicated to halting a proposal to extend the seawall from Kits Beach to Spanish Banks.
Elvira Lount says besides the environmental damage she says the project would cause to the foreshore along that stretch of beach, the public deserves to know the identity of the anonymous donor behind the proposal. As reported earlier in the Courier, the city says an anonymous donor is willing to pay to complete that stretch of seawall, a project estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars. Lount said not naming the donor is unacceptable.
"It's not like this is money for the homeless," Lount said in reference to another recent anonymous donation of $30 million to the city for a new housing project for homeless people with mental illness. "This is going to influence the entire nature of this whole area and it could be someone living along there who wants their property value to go up."
Lount added it's a fallacy the wealthy residents living above that stretch of beach don't want the seawall extended below their property. The waterfront area is home to some of the city's most rich and famous, including Army and Navy owner Jacqui Cohen and renowned scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki, who refused requests from the Courier to comment on the proposal.
Vision Vancouver park board chair Sarah Blyth is bringing the motion regarding the extension to the park board July 23.
Blyth joined Lount's Facebook page Keep Kits Beach Wild because, she said, she wants to hear from everyone.
"I've received a lot of emails and calls in support of the proposal," said Blyth. "But I want to hear from the other side, too."
Blyth said environmental concerns will be addressed before any work proceeds. But she said anonymity must be an option open to donors, particularly at a time when the park board is facing a financial squeeze.
Since Lount started the Facebook page this week, the group had garnered 120 members as of Tuesday morning. Group member Laurence Keane wrote on the page, "This area is called the 'POINT GREY FORESHORE.' A sign at the top of the stairs leading to the eastern end of the foreshore states, 'This is one of the last natural beaches in Vancouver. On this foreshore a bounteous intertidal zone provides a rich feeding for waterfowl that come in large numbers, especially during the winter months. More than 150 different bird species have been identified here, at which at least 70 are regular winter residents...'" Kitsilano resident Mel Lehan, a member of the Point Grey Natural Foreshore and Waterfowl Sanctuary Protective Society, told the Courier the group is not yet prepared to make a statement regarding the proposal.
But Lehan noted that in the mid-1990s, the society was successful in convincing the park board of the day to preserve that stretch of foreshore in perpetuity. "It's historical record," said Lehan. "But I bet a lot of people at the park board have no idea."
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