British Columbia

Lions Bay beach ban divides residents

A battle brewing is in the village of Lions Bay, B.C., where some residents want to block beach access to people from outside the seaside community.
Some residents of Lions Bay say only locals should be allowed to use the seaside park. (Lisa Johnson/CBC)

A battle brewing is in the village of Lions Bay, B.C., where some residents want to block beach access to people from outside the seaside community.

Lions Bay Beach Park is a picturesque destination with waves from Howe Sound breaking on the sand, two barbeques, manicured grass and a playground. A group of residents complained to village council last week that too many outsiders are using the space and argued for it to be "locals only."

The push for more exclusivity comes where the average house price is more than $1 million, with a gated waterfront home going for more than $3 million.

"Of course it should be resident-only, we pay the taxes," said Lions Bay resident Kambiz Azordegan. "The visitors come here and they never behave."

The group argued Lions Bay Beach Park is smaller than what's available in Vancouver just to the south. Lions Bay council has struck a task force on the issue and will be discussing it on Monday night.

"I respect people who have come forward with their concerns. What I find as mayor is very seldom do people come forward with an issue when it's not an issue," said Mayor Brenda Broughton. The village has a bylaw at another beach allowing scuba diving for only residents and their guests.

The proposal to ban visitors from the Lions Bay Beach Park has infuriated other residents.

"I think it's assinine," said Alex Laverick. "What kind of elitists have we got here?"

Penny Nelson, who also lives in Lions Bay, says she's disgusted by an elitist attitude by a "small group of individuals in this village." She hopes the actions of a few won't sully the reputation of everyone who lives there.

Council could cap the number of people on the beach at once, or make it harder for non-residents to park their vehicles.

"What they can't look at doing is limiting the use of a public facility or public resource to an elite group of people. That's what the law is all about," says David Eby of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

If Lions Bay was allowed to keep visitors off the beach, there would be nothing stopping Vancouver or other jurisdictions from instituting similar bans.

"I don't really see a lot of shopping malls here in Lions Bay, so I guess when they come and shop at our house we should have a residents-only shopping area," said Arthur Sanderson, who was visiting from Coquitlam. "I just don't think they should be able to own a beach."

With files from the CBC's Lisa Johnson

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