People have paddled from the portion of Jericho Beach, soon to be liberated and ecologically restored after 71 years clad in WWII military concrete and creosote pilings, since people first lived in the area 3,000 years ago. People who want to paddle here in the future will have to get past iron bars, large boulders and strategically placed log piles if the new Park Board plan is allowed to go ahead.
Acknowledging the overwhelming public response supporting a natural beach, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation unveiled their revised concept plan for the restoration of Jericho Beach at a Public Consultation Open House held at the Jericho Sailing Centre on May 18. While the new concept plan largely respects this, it fails to consider that they also received an overwhelming response (77%) supporting safe ocean access. In fact, astoundingly, they failed to mention anything about safe ocean access at all in the presentation of public consultation results.
What is the message here that Vancouver's Park Board is sending to its naturally-powered ocean recreation community? Park Board Planning staff were directed to "work with stakeholders to prepare a revised concept plan..." yet a distinct recreational community unique to Jericho Park has been deliberately ignored and their opinions even suppressed in a Park Board report. Denial is no longer just a river in Egypt, it's now part of the public process for the restoration of Jericho Beach.
Twenty thousand residents will launch into English Bay, Vancouver's largest playground, from the shore of Jericho Beach this year. That's significantly more than 10 years ago and, taking into account recreational trends and population growth, we can expect that number to significantly increase over the next ten years. On busy days safe public recreational ocean access is a strong concern now, moving forward into the future it will become a far more serious issue. Is it possible that the Park Board hasn't considered public safety?
Vancouver's Ocean recreation community, if you want to be heard, you have to speak up a little louder because so far no one is listening. You have until Noon on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 to participate in the democratic process by filling in an on-line Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation Open House Comment Form. We encourage you to provide your own wording, but appreciate that we've cut into your ocean recreation time too much already, so we provide this generic cut and pastee for your consideration:
I support Safe Public Recreational Ocean Access from Jericho Park
· Remove metal railing and other obstructions at the west and SW corner.
· Retain grass area historically used by public for preparing paddle and wind powered craft for launch.
Here is the link to the on line survey: