Lions Bay bursting at seams as nude beach becomes hotspot
Published Tuesday, July 4, 2017 4:38PM PDT
The quiet Sea-to-Sky community of Lions Bay is being overwhelmed as nudists and other visitors flock to a gravel beach that until recently was something of a local secret.
The main issue with the increasing popularity of clothing-optional Brunswick Beach is that there is no public parking on the surrounding roads and no public bathrooms for visitors to relieve themselves.
Andrea Klas, who has lived in the area for 12 years, said the situation has resulted in some unexpected house guests, particularly on sunny weekends.
"I've had people knock on my door and ask me if they can use my washroom, and get really surprised when I say no," said Klas. "Then they ask me where the facilities are down here, and I say well, there are no facilities down here. It's a rustic beach."
The stretch of waterfront isn't sandy, but compared to Metro Vancouver's more popular sunbathing spots it can be appealingly quiet, particularly for nudists. But the infrastructure simply isn't there to accommodate crowds.
The road that leads to the beach is one narrow lane off the Sea-to-Sky Highway, which is why parking isn't allowed on either side. But visitors will sometimes park there anyway, or even help themselves to locals' driveways.
That can create obvious problems if residents' cars get trapped on or off their own properties. But Klas said her main concern is for her children's safety, because visitors tend to ignore the 10 km/h speed limit on the cul-de-sac where they live.
“Down here our children play on the road, they cross to go to the beach, they play hockey on the road,” she said.
The issue extends beyond Brunswick Beach as well. A small parking lot that services a hiking trailhead, Lions Bay Beach Park, and the Kelvin Grove dog beach has also been overwhelmed with vehicles on recent sunny weekends.
Mayor Karl Buhr said officials are already working to reconfigure the parking lot to accommodate more visitors in the hopes that drivers will stop finding creative and illegal ways to access the beaches.
"People tend to park on the highway, which starts getting to be a problem. People are whipping by at what's supposed to be 70 [km/h] – it's actually 120," said Buhr.
The mayor insists locals aren't being snobby, they simply want visitors to follow the rules for everyone's safety.
"We're spending quite a lot of energy and budget to accommodate more visitors. Lions Bay has said loud and clear to council that they actually want to be more welcoming," Buhr said. "But when we're full, we're full."
The Lions Bay school's parking lot is also being used as an overflow lot outside of school hours, but with traffic growing 20 per cent a year, the tiny community of roughly 1,300 people is having trouble keeping up.
Buhr said officials could tow scofflaw parkers, but they'd much prefer to have drivers comply with the rules than have families return after a long day at the beach and find themselves stranded.
"The revenue opportunity is minuscule," he said. "We will tow for safety reasons – parked in a fire lane, we'd always do that – but towing is anathema to me."
What seems clear for now is the once-sleepy community is only going to get more popular, particularly as its scenic spots get flaunted on social media. Buhr acknowledged the cat is out of the bag, he only hopes people who arrive to find parking spots full will consider trying to discover some new hidden gems elsewhere.
“The whole of Howe Sound is spectacular, I don’t need to tell you,” he said.
With files from CTV Vancouver's St. John Alexander