January 6, 2017 2:41 pm

Don’t rush to the beach for free sand: Vancouver Park Board

Sand may be free and available at Vancouver beaches, but there is a bylaw in place against removing it.

Sergio Magro, Global News

As Vancouverites are struggling to get their hands on salt to sprinkle on their iced sidewalks, some may be tempted to look to Vancouver’s beaches for another free source of an effective ice-buster.

Some residents spent hours waiting in line for free salt offered by the city earlier this week, but others were spotted scooping up some sand from Kitsilano beach on Thursday.

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The Vancouver Park Board says that’s against their bylaws and is destructive to the ecosystem.

Director of Park Operations Howard Normann says their crews are busy clearing parking lots and sidewalks around the city, so the beaches have not been high on their priority list.

But since the sighting of people scooping up sand at Kitsilano beach, they have dispatched ranger crews to do beach patrols and let people know it’s not a good idea to help themselves to beach sand.

“We are actually losing sand on some of our beaches, as opposed to gaining sand,” Normann said. “It’s a biodiversity issue: lots of little insects and bugs count on that sand, especially around the tide lines.”

Species like surf smelt could be particularly vulnerable. Normann says they spawn in the upper tidal zone, so if people help themselves to the tidal sand that’s loose and not frozen, it might present a problem.

READ MORE: Vancouver salt giveaway day 3 – Officials hoping for orderly lineups

Another concern is First Nations land rights.

“We can’t even go out to Jericho beach and plant a tree without having our archaeologist approve the site where we are digging to plant a tree, so if people start digging in the sand in those areas, that’s potentially a problem as well,” Normann said.

Normann says they have never dealt with a problem of people removing sand from the beaches and they want to make sure it stays this way.

There is a bylaw in place that prohibits the removal of beach sand and carries a maximum fine of $2,000.

“This person [who took sand from the beach] was very creative and probably wanted to get some sand for their home, but it definitely has bigger implications for us and we don’t want to encourage anyone to do that. We will be out patrolling and making sure it does not happen.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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