Despite what seems to have been a misunderstanding, White Rock’s beach remains open to the public, says the city’s mayor.
Work crews began fencing off the promenade on Wednesday (April 8) after the City of White Rock announced it would close the walkway to discourage groups from gathering along the waterfront during Easter weekend.
On Friday, however, a security guard stationed at the Bay Street boat launch was reportedly blocking people from accessing the beach. Additionally, one woman told Peace Arch News, security guards walked along the beach and asked people to leave. Some people who were turned away simply walked along the BNSF railway tracks and accessed the beach out of view of the security guards.
White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker said Tuesday that the city’s intent was to leave two access points to the beach open, one at the Bay Street boat launch and the other near Cypress Street.
“So there may have been some mistaken information about where people couldn’t go and could go, and I think we have to check with our security folks to clarify that,” Walker said.
Walker said he checked in on the beach four times over the long weekend, and was impressed by the physical distancing and small number of people on the waterfront.
The White Rock’s iconic pier has been closed for a number of weeks, and the promenade will remain closed for the foreseeable future.
“People seem to be doing the right thing, but we’ll have further discussions on that. But for now, suffice to say, (the promenade) is going to remain closed.”
Walker said COVID-19-related issues, specifically mentioning a focus on how to improve safety issues in the community, have taken up much of his time.
He offered his gratitude to South Surrey and White Rock residents for “playing by the rules” of physical distancing.
“I’ve been very impressed and pleased with the response of the citizens of this area,” he added.
On April 8, Semiahmoo First Nation declared a local state of emergency, a fire ban, and closed both its parking-lot and beach-access on its lands.
“By closing parking lots and beach access on our lands, we’re hoping to encourage people to stay at home, stay safe and do our part to flatten the curve,” SFN Coun. Joanne Charles said in a news release.
Parking areas affected are the large lot behind Washington Avenue Grill (15782 Marine Dr.) as well as the lot at Peace Arch Park, behind the Peace Arch Duty Free store.
Both lots, along with that at the western end of SFN land on Marine Drive – across from the Ocean Promenade Hotel – are to remain closed until further notice, however, limited parking will remain available for customers of Indigenous Bloom, the WAG and Verandah, the release adds.
The fire ban is in effect on SFN lands and beach, and includes campfires, beach fires and briquette barbecues.
The announcement followed word from the City of Surrey regarding closures of the Christopherson Steps and 1,001 Steps in Crescent Beach.
Monday, Provincial Health Office Dr. Bonnie Henry said it’s important that people go outside, but not gather.
“I think it’s important for our mental health as well as our physical health and family health. I encourage people to go outside but do it in a way that maintains that distance,” Henry said, adding that gatherings inside are the most likely situation where the virus can be transmitted.