Memories of ill-fated 1982 Marine Drive plan linger for longtime White Rock residents

White Rock’s Marine Drive will be turned into a one-way street on June 7. (Aaron Hinks photo)White Rock’s Marine Drive will be turned into a one-way street on June 7. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock’s Marine Drive in 1981. (Photo courtesy of the White Rock Museum & Archives)White Rock’s Marine Drive in 1981. (Photo courtesy of the White Rock Museum & Archives)
A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)
A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)
White Rock’s Marine Drive as it looked in the mid-1980s. (Photo courtesy of the White Rock Museum & Archives)White Rock’s Marine Drive as it looked in the mid-1980s. (Photo courtesy of the White Rock Museum & Archives)
A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)
A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)
White Rock’s Marine Drive as it looked in the mid-1980s. (Photo courtesy of the White Rock Museum & Archives)White Rock’s Marine Drive as it looked in the mid-1980s. (Photo courtesy of the White Rock Museum & Archives)
A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)
White Rock’s Marine Drive as it looked in the mid-1980s. (Photo courtesy of the White Rock Museum & Archives)White Rock’s Marine Drive as it looked in the mid-1980s. (Photo courtesy of the White Rock Museum & Archives)
A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)A series of newspaper stories from 1982 detail the City of White Rock’s plans to deal with rowdyism along White Rock’s Marine Drive. (Contributed images)

Longtime residents of White Rock can be forgiven if they’ve been feeling a sense of deja vu as the city moves to turn Marine Drive into a one-way street.

It has, in fact, happened before.

And though many of the details have been lost to time – the exact date, for starters – those who were involved in the decision back in 1982 do remember one thing clearly: it was an unmitigated disaster.

In fact, the project was so poorly received that it was scrapped after about 24 hours.

Though the idea was well-intended – “It was put in place primarily because there was a lot of rowdyism in those days that was happening along Marine Drive,” said Gordon Hogg, who was on city council at the time – it was a prime example of a good idea with unintended consequences, which included complaints from hillside residents who couldn’t get their vehicles out of their driveways because the normally sleepy residential streets had become so congested as a result of the re-routed traffic.

“The mayor, Tom Kirstein, was away – he was on his honeymoon at the time, I think – and I was acting mayor, and I do recall receiving a number of phone calls over a short period of time. Mostly from people on Victoria Avenue,” Hogg said, noting that the endeavour was driven by the Marine Drive Merchants Association.

Similar, but different

While there are some similarities between then and now – a push to help beachfront business, most notably – White Rock Coun. Scott Kristjanson, who put forward the current one-way motion for Marine, is confident that the plan will go much more smoothly this time.

“Definitely, if you don’t do it right, it’s going to be a problem. When I made this motion I said, ‘You know what? It’s a tricky situation and there are a lot of complexities to it, but we trust staff to work with the RCMP, the fire department, the BIA and residents to come up with a solution that works best for everybody,” he said.

• READ ALSO: Challenges stall one-way proposal for White Rock’s Marine Drive

• READ ALSO: Marine Drive one-way to take effect June 7

“I think it’s completely possible to do this. I’ve seen options that will work and that I hope (staff) will (implement) because if it’s not done well, it is going to be a one-day thing that’s disappointing.”

Kristjanson added that he was unaware of the 1982 initiative until told of it by a Peace Arch News reporter, and questioned why staff and council at the time would simply give up after a single day of complaints.

“I’d love to talk to them about why they gave up after one day. That’s not how I go. We’ve had a number of emails – people with concerns. And we want to embrace those concerns,” he said.

“The phone calls – even the angry ones – are gifts of information. When staff produced this plan, there were 20 issues they raised. Some people might think, ‘Oh, 20 issues, that means we can’t do it.’ But to me that’s not proper thinking.

“How you solve problems is you look at those 20 issues and you say, yes they’re issues, but they’re also just constraints on a solution. It just narrows down (possible) solutions, that’s all. You address each one individually… until you find your answer.”

Reigning-in the ‘rowdies’

Hogg, who took over the mayor’s chair in 1984, told PAN that during the spring of ’82 a number of possible solutions were, in fact, pitched, and some even briefly put into action – everything from a one-way experiment to closing Marine Drive to traffic entirely. He also recalled a few weekends during which traffic was temporarily diverted off Marine Drive near the Hump at East Beach.

He also noted that prior to the city building the promenade and eliminating parking on the north-side of the street in the mid-1980s, Marine Drive was not exactly the family-friendly place is it today.

“In talking with a planner, I asked him, ‘How do we manage this? How do we give more access to the restaurants and also give this (area) back to the community?”’ Hogg explained.

“The rowdies were not willing to be as rowdy when there were suddenly a whole bunch of people around holding them accountable. You wouldn’t be blasting your music or drinking in your car.”

Newspaper articles at the time – from both the Peace Arch News and the now-defunct The Columbian – detail the rowdy behaviour which Hogg mentioned, with headlines such as “88 booze seizures” (Peace Arch News, June 23, 1982), as well as the city’s attempts to fix the issue (“White Rock problems tackled” (The Columbian, May 15, 1982).

Neither Hogg nor longtime City of White Rock parks and recreation manager Doug Stone could remember if the infamous day involved a full closure of Marine, or involved making it a one-way; news stories of the day detail plans for both.

“I wish I could tell you, but I honestly can’t remember,” said Stone.

The date of that single day is also up for debate, with Stone remembering that it happened in July, with others suggesting it was a month or so earlier. A May 5 article in PAN – “City to try Marine Drive partial closure” – notes that the idea was put forth by the Marine Drive task force, of which Stone was chair and Hogg was council liaison.

‘Same issues, multiplied’

Regardless of the extent to which the road was closed in 1982, Stone predicted that the same issues will arise again – only multiplied – once the city’s one-way plan takes root.

“The volume of traffic on a busy weekend today is probably twice the amount it would have been back then,” he said.

Neither Hogg nor Stone could recall anyone – engineers, firefighters or police officers – who recommended that the one-way closure go forward back in 1982.

“The city engineers said, ‘Absolutely do not do this’ because of the effects it would have on the residential neighbourhoods,” Stone said. “The impact on Victoria (Avenue) was particularly chaotic – cars gridlocked from top to bottom.”

‘Persistence and problem solving’

Hogg said he relayed his memories of the ’82 closure to White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker, while Stone said he’s passed on his thoughts to staff as well.

Kristjanson said he expects there will issues that arise, but “the trick is to just roll with it, and deal with it.” He also remained steadfast in his belief that the problems of 1982 do not automatically mean the current plan is destined to fail.

“There were a lot of people over the years who tried to make airplanes work – Leonardo da Vinci was a pretty smart guy and he failed at it, but then some guys called the Wright Brothers came along and figured it out eventually. It’s more about persistence and trying to solve problems.”



editorial@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

historyTrafficWhite Rock

Just Posted

A Grade 8 class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
B.C.’s return-to-school plan good, but Surrey teachers hope there is room for adjustments

Surrey school district to receive $1.76M of the $25.6M provincial pandemic-related funding

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Pier has reportedly been unused for a long time

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Most Read