The UBC RCMP detachment's decision to place a tent at Wreck Beach, full time for several hours a day is both unacceptable and dumb. However, some beach-goers (maybe with the blessing of the Wreck Beach Preservation Society) have decided to circulate a petition demanding the RCMP remove the proposed tent ... and some other things. Also dumb. I'll get to that later.
Let's start with the UBC RCMP. As a long time resident of Vancouver who lives near the beach, and someone who has both observed and appreciated the uniqueness of that nude beach over time, one can only shake a head in disbelief at an action that will both infuriate those who value the beach, and which will prove to be a PR blunder for the UBC RCMP... and maybe even the RCMP as an organization.
What makes this particular beach like no other in the Lower Mainland is both its natural beauty and atmosphere. The natural beauty is under constant attack from pollution and development, however its atmosphere is also threatened by the presence of armed and uniformed individuals.
That's where both the RCMP and Greater Vancouver Regional District come in. Why is it necessary for two administrations to be patrolling the beach all the time? Especially THAT beach? Why do the RCMP need to spend so much time there?
Why is it acceptable to have an enforced CURFEW on Wreck Beach every night at sunset, for that matter, on any beach, in a first world, in a supposedly free country? Why does the Coast Guard hovercraft show up every time someone stubs their toe on that beach?
We'll leave the follow the money discussion regarding UBC development and politics for another day.
Let's just say the battle over Wreck Beach, and who has the right to use it, was won decades ago. It's a clothing optional beach and therefore attracts a particular demographic. Some, it seems, just can't get over it.
B.C. MLA Harry Bains was on the radio last week lamenting lack of RCMP manpower for serious crime in Surrey. There are serious crimes, including the murder of Wendy Ladner-Beaudry which took place in UBC RCMP's jurisdiction, that remain unsolved. Given that, the both unwanted and unnecessary presence on a beach that is essentially self-policing, looks bad for the RCMP and its members.
An action like this can only add fuel to the fire for those who will question RCMP priorities and inevitably (and rightfully) ask " have the RCMP nothing better to do?" Good question.
Few are unaware of what goes on down at that beach. Nothing's changed, and nothing will change... except last week, when some RCMP sergeant chose to draw the line in the sand.
The result of this action will be upset beach-goers. It's bad media publicity and yet again more public attention to the bad management and misallocation of police / taxpayer resources by the RCMP.
Like I said, unacceptable and dumb.
As far as the beach-goers go; one should never assume the so-called free spirits down at Wreck Beach, are above their own form of controlling hypocrisy. Underneath the petition's first line demanding to oust the cops are seven points, including the demand to have the Vancouver police harbour patrol oust boaters and jet skis.
This is a dumb move, as anybody in the advocacy world should know. The cops' presence on Wreck is a galvanizing issue, and it's an issue that could consolidate support from beach users for useful issues; in the same way that UBC development above the beach did for the Wreck Beach Preservation Society (WBPS).
However, every time you throw another issue or rule in there, you can count on diluting your support.
So what's their beef with boaters? Boaters can be annoying, some jet skis are noisy (some are smoky), dogs off leash can be frustrating; however, I believe nudists are generally libertarians (although not all libertarians are nudists). But one thing is for sure, and it's they do not like rules.
Although boaters have lots of rules to follow (for safety's sake) there are lots of libertarians who are boaters. So not only is it hypocritical for the beach-goers and WBPS to be declaring war on boaters, but it's also dumb if they want support for their cause(s).
Notwithstanding the WBPS's eco and socio political bias (somehow the use of boats, for some, is directly correlated to Stephen Harper and big oil), the explanation for the need to remove boaters (among others) given to me by a petitioner was that some of the "psychedelic drugs are a bit different these days and the buzzing from the jet skis produces a negative vibe."
WBPS claims it's all about safety. OK, show me. I'll believe it when I see it.
All of this reminds me of a story: Years ago, I was at the beach asleep and was wakened by a woman behind me arguing with a man about her unleashed dog. The man was berating her for bringing a dog to the beach and he told her she had no right to have a dog there without a leash, or even have a dog there in the first place.
Her response to him was "Wrong beach, dude!" I was semi-conscious by then, but paying attention to the conversation and thinking to myself "Yeah she's right; stupid rules about dogs not being on a leash anyway. I love dogs," and returned to sleep in the hot sun.
Not 10 minutes later and the dog was standing over me, having been for a swim and in the sand, shaking water and dirt all over me from head to toe.
Believe me, I saw the irony that I had just been on the side of the dog and owner, and that I was now being seriously inconvenienced.
You know what? I reminded myself what I love so much about that beach.... and I was fine with it.
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