In terms of non-motorized water sports, Vancouver has two things going for it.
It’s a city by the water, which means there are lots of opportunities for this type of activity.
Second, its mild weather allows people to enjoy being on the water for most of the year.
These two factors were cited in a draft strategy prepared by Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation staff to enhance the public’s use of and access to non-motorized watercraft recreation.
The proposed 10-year strategy is scheduled for a vote by park commissioners in a meeting Monday (June 10).
“Vancouver is a city surrounded by water – this is a key part of our identity,” according to the document titled On Water, Vancouver’s Non-motorized Watercraft Recreation Strategy. “Vancouver’s geography provides unique opportunities for recreation on –and engagement with – our surrounding waters.”
A staff report to park commissioners defines non-motorized watercraft recreation as leisure powered by humans and “natural elements”.
“These include canoeing, kite surfing, rowing, dragon boating, outrigging, wind surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and small craft sailing (not including motorized boats and large sailboats),” the report states.
The strategy’s study area covers the “waters of False Creek, Spanish Banks, English Bay, and the Burrard Inlet near Coal Harbour”.
“The Fraser River was not included due to its heavy industrial use, safety concerns related to its strong currents, and lack of facilities in the area,” according to the report.
The strategy spells out five directions: expand opportunities, increase access to the water, improve safety, protection of the environment, and to foster opportunities to build community.
Staff anticipate quick start projects, including the production of an On Water user map.
Other actions involve facility and accessibility assessments at park board launch points.
Also included in immediate measures is the upgrading of the Alder Bay Dock facility next to the False Creek Community Centre.
The draft strategy notes that part of the challenge facing the city is that there are “currently no specified beach locations for launching non-motorized watercraft”.
It identifies the following beaches that may be used for non-motorized watercraft: English Bay Beach, Habitat Island, Jericho Beach, Locarno Beach, Second Beach, Spanish Banks, Sunset Beach, and Third Beach.
Vancouver has four dedicated facilities for non-motorized watercraft use: Creekside Paddling Centre, Jericho Sailing Centre, Kitsilano Yacht Club, and Vancouver Rowing Club.