Not a simple day at the beach

There seems to be a misconception that Canal Beach will be closed to the public this year since city council voted in favour of leaving $500,000 originally earmarked for beach improvements in the Land Sale Reserve fund.

Last week council voted against a budget item that would have seen $500,000 spent on resurfacing the old Alberni Plywood pier. Mayor John Douglas, who was the only voice in favour of spending the money in 2014-15, called it a ‘grave error’ and intimated that work on the pier would likely never be completed if it wasn’t done this year.

Squabbling aside, the beach is something a large percentage of the community has embraced, including city councillors. Just look at how many hundreds of people showed up for the polar bear swim on Jan. 1 as evidence.

What is in store for the beach and adjacent park this year? Opinions seem to differ. The mayor feels that if the pier is not resurfaced, the beach will likely die or the property will be sold.

Some envision Canal Beach as akin to Ladysmith’s Transfer Beach, a lovely little green space along what used to be a complete industrial waterfront. Others see it as a jumping off point for all sorts of watersports. Still others see it as a recreational gem sandwiched between marine industry.

The problem is, there is no plan for the beach. There is a lot of talk about what people would like to see, but there is no vision, no plan. And there needs to be cohesiveness for this place to flourish.

Lack of a pier this year won’t kill Canal Beach; political posturing very well could.

If the community really wants this beach, it’s time to step in. Don’t let the city argue it to obscurity.

— Alberni Valley News

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