Whether you’re in a kayak, a canoe, or on a paddle board, everyone can agree a trip past Vancouver’s Third Beach and the iconic Siwash Rock is hard to beat for its gorgeous sights.
But new restrictions on those waters proposed by the Port of Vancouver could make such trips a thing of the past.
The Port says too many paddlers are sneaking their way out into the shipping lanes within the First Narrows, which has forced the authority to enforce a ban on those waters to human-powered vessels — including the shallow waters directly off the coast of Stanley Park.
To paddlers, that’s a step too far.
The Port of Vancouver said restrictions have always been in place for the First Narrows, but weren’t heavily enforced, which allowed paddlers to explore the shoreline around Stanley Park.
Under the proposed restrictions, everything is off-limits within the area from Ferguson Point to West Vancouver, east to a boundary that stretches from Burnaby Shoal to the edge of Fibreco Dock in North Vancouver.
In a written comment addressed to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Mike Cotter of the Jericho Sailing Centre Association argues the restrictions would take away areas that have been used by paddlers “for thousands of years.”
The statement also says the relationship with the Port is one of mutual respect that should be kept that way.
“Respecting port traffic operations is the responsibility of every recreational skipper who operates a water craft in the Vancouver area,” Cotter wrote.
The Port declined an in-person interview with Global News, but commented that the new rules would actually benefit paddlers by potentially freeing up some of the restricted zones around English Bay and the Burrard Inlet.
But the statement has done little to sway paddling enthusiasts who say the proposals are an example of massive overreach.
Cotter with Jericho Sailing said a proposal has been sent to the port by the Hollyburn Sailing Club, suggesting the southern border of the restricted zone be set at a line due west of Prospect Point.
Hollyburn argues that would keep the channel clear for ships while keeping areas like Ferguson Point and Siwash Rock open to paddlers.
The port has been accepting public comments that it says will influence whether the proposed amendments are adopted. The last day for comments is Sunday, Oct. 8.
For more information on the amendments, and on how to send in comments, visit the Port of Vancouver’s web page on the changes.
With files from Aaron McArthur