Wreck Beach nudists slam Metro Vancouver’s park "goons"
ForWatermelon (real name Mary Jean Dunsdon), opportunities to bask in a Wreck Beach sunset have been "rare" lately.
However, when the self-proclaimed "weed diva" known for her beach merch stuck around until 9:40 p.m. on July 25, she was given verbal notice of a 72-hour ban from the beach. She said she’s still fuming over the indignity and the heavy-handed treatment she received for violating a rule prohibiting people from being on the beach after sunset.
"I would love to enjoy it [sunset] to its completion, the most beautiful part of it," Watermelon told the Straight by phone. "But not just that. I would love to enjoy it without a goon standing 40 metres from me, just waiting for the sun to dip so he can run over and kick me off, issue me verbal warnings, tell me I can’t come to my place of worship."
Watermelon said she objects to the strict enforcement of access hours at Wreck Beach, which on paper is open until 10 p.m. through August 13, like most parks run by Metro Vancouver, but in practice closes at sunset.
Judy Williams, long-time president of the Wreck Beach Preservation Society, told the Straight she agrees with Watermelon.
"I mean, you look at the confluence of the different oceans near Gandhi’s grave in India, and people from all over the world go there to see sunset because it’s very spiritual," Williams said by phone. "And it’s a spiritual thing with us. Because after all, this is where the Musqueam trod long before the white man came. The other thing is that the other beaches don’t have this kind of discrimination for their sunset closure time. Kits [Beach] doesn’t close until 11 p.m."
Richard Wallis, Metro Vancouver’s park operations supervisor, told the Straight that Williams had relayed her concerns to him adding, "It’s certainly an issue that we’ve discussed with them many, many many times in the past. I understand that they are not happy with how we handle it, but our position hasn’t changed."
Wallis added that the legal definition of sunset is "when it [the sun] goes below the horizon". Williams suggested authorities can stay up at the top of the winding stairs leading to Wreck Beach and wait for the public to leave.
"In our experience, it doesn’t work that way," Wallis said. "People will stay on the beach as long as they can."
Right now, sunset is at 8:54 p.m., Wallis said, so for Watermelon to be asked to leave at 9:40 p.m. "is a solid 45 minutes" after that.
"So, if she was asked to leave the beach at 9:40, then actually she had lots of time to enjoy the beach beyond sunset."