British Columbia

New Westminster beach opens - but you can't swim in the water

Would you go to a beach where you can't swim?

Timber Wharf at Westminster Pier Park is built three or four metres above the water

Melissa Fiorucci enjoys the new beach at New Westminster, B.C., even though she cannot swim in the water. (Vivian Luk/CBC)

There is a new sandy beach by the Fraser River in New Westminster, B.C., but visitors cannot swim in the water.

The beach on Timber Wharf at Westminster Pier Park is between three and four metres above the water.

"To get down to the water level would have been cost-prohibitive for us," says Dean Gibson, New Westminster's director of parks, culture and recreation.

"And secondly, that section of the river has a very, very fast running current. In the interests of public safety, it was better for us to retain the existing condition which kept that physical separation between the water and the general public."

Still popular with families

Even though they cannot dip their toes in the water, and the fine sand is only about 30 centimetres deep, several locals have already embraced the beach as a popular spot to relax with their families.

There is a new urban beach in New Westminster, B.C., but visitors cannot swim in the water. (Vivian Luk/CBC)

"I think it'll be a nice place for families to come and just relax, get away from the humdrum of the city," says Jill Parpatt.

Melissa Fiorucci has taken to the beach wholeheartedly, staking a spot with a blanket, and soaking up the sun in a bikini.

"I wouldn't probably want to swim in this water anyway," she says, "It's nice to just be out, lay down, get comfortable, and have good views, and you get the wonderful breeze off the water. So you can't complain, really."

"We like it a lot," says fellow beachgoer Marco Alucema, "Because the volleyball courts get really busy around five or six in the evening. We come here about that time.

"Now this urban [beach] is more for the kids, so they get to play here, play football, play in the sand and all that. So it's really good."

A new beach opened up on Timber Wharf at Westminster Pier Park in New Westminster, B.C. (Vivian Luk/CBC)

"My daughter is just two, and we live here in New Westminster, and we've discovered this beautiful park. We've been down here every day," Melanie Flint says.

"With her only being two, going to the actual beach is a really long destination, so for us to walk here, it's perfect."

Comparisons with Paris?

There are other examples of beaches like this, says Gibson.

"In Paris, they have the Paris Plage. Every summer, they convert a section of their waterfront highway into this long linear beach area, and it's been wildly successful for a number of years."


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