Despite the fact it was closed to the public in early April, people walk and picnic on the White Rock promenade during the May 9-10 weekend. On Monday, council voted to spend up to $10,000 for additional policing along the waterfront during the upcoming Victoria Day long weekend to help enforce social distancing. (Garry Wolgemuth photo)

‘White Rock is closed to visitors this weekend’ – city council

Extra policing, bylaw officers mulled in light of COVID-19 infractions over Mother’s Day weekend

With the Victoria Day long weekend (May 16-18) looming, White Rock council wants to get the message out that the city is still closed to visitors until the province formally enters the relaxed restrictions of phase two of pandemic response – a move expected May 19.

In extended debates Monday night, council wrestled with the idea of authorizing extra overtime for an increased RCMP presence on the waterfront for the long weekend, ultimately deciding to endorse Coun. Scott Kristjanson’s motion to ask for two extra officers on duty between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on all three days – with a cap of $10,000 on budgeting for it.

The motion passed in a split vote, with Couns. Erika Johanson, Christopher Trevelyan and Helen Fathers against it.

Council unanimously endorsed a motion from Trevelyan that additional communication from the city should emphasize that it’s not business as usual for the long weekend.

“Communication is big piece of this,” he said. “We have a May long weekend coming up, and that is still in phase one. We really want to communicate to the public that White Rock is closed this weekend.”

Factors colouring discussion included public defiance of parking and pedestrian restrictions and trespassing on the closed promenade this past weekend – termed “challenging” by chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill, and criticized by both Kristjanson and Coun. David Chesney.

Chesney told council he had spent some 20 hours on the waterfront over the weekend without seeing a single RCMP officer, adding that police presence had been “woefully lacking.” Most of the problems, he added in later discussion, are coming not from residents, but from visitors to the community.

Chesney also noted concerns that the public are accessing the waterfront by walking along the BNSF tracks, in which he was joined by Coun. Anthony Manning, who pointed out that all of city staff’s hard work toward to achieving an absence of train whistles could be undone by a single incident of a train striking a pedestrian.

“I think this long weekend is the test of this council, and we’re going to be held accountable by the public if we don’t properly maintain order,” Kristjanson said.

“There’s going to be another (busy) weekend like this,” he added. ” We should be prepared. We’re going to wear it if we’re not.”

READ ALSO: White Rock’s promenade to close to the public

Bottrill said his preference is to have RCMP officers back-up the work of city bylaw and parking patrol officers, noting some aggressive response from visitors. The city issued some 100 tickets Mother’s Day weekend for various infractions, he said, adding that the city is reaching out to casual staff in both bylaw and parking enforcement duties to schedule additional shifts for the coming weekend and throughout the summer.

Also a factor in discussions is that the city has not yet set a schedule for re-opening the pier, the promenade and waterfront parking lots, with Bottrill – who is about to pass the reins to incoming CAO Guillermo Ferrero – noting that a full corporate report is due to be presented to council on May 25, and suggesting that council might at that time consider scheduling steps toward re-opening, beginning June 1.

READ ALSO: White Rock beach open to public, promenade to remain closed

“We don’t have a time frame for that,” Bottrill told council members, urging them avoid a costly situation in which fencing is removed and the waterfront is opened, only to have to be closed again.

“Be cautious, be measured in terms of that,” he urged council. “Have the same principles on which you closed be the principles on which you open.”

Council also unanimously approved a motion from Kristjanson that the city request provincial authorities, which have purview over the beach and foreshore, to step up inspections to maintain that provincial regulations on unleashed dogs and social distancing protocols are enforced.

“The beach was really crowded, it was really unsafe as far as COVID-19 is concerned. I don’t expect our bylaw officers to do it, I don’t expect our RCMP officers to do it – it’s a provincial jurisdiction.”



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Chilliwack band Joanie Loves Chachi releases new album, already an award-winner

The local punk rock band’s new album ‘My Brother’s Karate’ available as digital download

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

UPDATE w/ VIDEO: Semi crashes through barriers east of Chilliwack on Highway 1

Emergency, Hydro crews dispatched as truck goes off the road in westbound lanes

Opinion: Why the fuss about wearing a mask?

Do the non-medical reasons for not wearing masks in a pandemic outweigh potential benefits?

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

Northbound lane of Coquihalla closed after vehicle incident near Hope

A northbound lane is closed just north of the Great Bear Snowshed, according to DriveBC

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

VIDEO: Prince William and Kate chat with B.C. hospital staff about COVID-19

Seven-minute video posted to Youtube on Canada Day

Most Read