Wreck Beach nudists slam Metro Vancouver’s park "goons"

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      For Watermelon (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."



      jonny .

      Aug 1, 2012 at 4:13pm

      I define sunset as the time when you can no longer see the suns light on the horizon.

      Yes, the sun may dip below the horizon before that, but there is still significant light for much longer, and that is what people intend on watching when you they say they are going to "watch the sun set".

      Parks should only be closed after it gets dark, and if someone is there quiet, causing no harm, who really cares?!

      The point of closing the parks is to be able to kick noisy teens out from parting there after dark.


      Aug 1, 2012 at 6:32pm

      Johny...your definition of sunset is incorrect. Sunset and sunrise are precise and scientific. You can determine the precise time of sunset by checking any boating forecast or by downloading an app.

      As long as the bylaw officers are observing the correct, scientifically determined time. no one has any reason to complain.


      Aug 1, 2012 at 7:08pm

      Beach enforcement goons are a joke, but then so is a lot of this spiritual sunset jabber. What the hell does Gandhi have to do with a bunch of naked space cadets and burn-outs lolling about all day letting their freak flag fly? Or natives? You're naked, full of weed, and you have your own little corner of Vancouver all to yourselves - but oh no - the Man is keepin' me down, man.


      Aug 1, 2012 at 8:04pm

      Most of the people who visit a naturist club/beach for the first time are surprised by the lack of sexuality. Some expect a sexually-charged atmosphere, since in North America we see others nude in sexual situations such as love scenes in movies, in magazines and in videos. However, the link between nudity and sexuality is arbitrary. In Victorian times, to see a woman's knees was very sexual because they were supposed to be hidden all the time. We expose some parts of our bodies which are as sexual as those which we hide. Our lips, for example, are probably as involved in sexuality as our genital areas, yet people walk around exposing their lips without causing mass arousal. Naturist looks like you and I and come from all walks of life. You will find it to be a relaxing lifestyle that is free of the daily stress we all experience. Naturist groups like naturistmingle are looking for people who are open minded and want to enjoy the company of others of a like mind.


      Aug 1, 2012 at 9:24pm

      The problem with "Watermelon" (not her real name) is that she believes she has more right to be on Wreck Beach during the day also, nevermind the evenings. She is lucky Wreck Beach even exists....it's days are numbered. She should put her efforts into preserving it once her high wears off.

      Some Guy Named Bob

      Aug 1, 2012 at 10:53pm

      Wow, things seem to have become a little uptight in the last couple of decades... 20 years ago a good chunk of the local punk rock scene would get some epic parties going down there... all night and well into the morning. Sometimes some would even sleep there. Never had a problem either... well, except one time... a friend of mine lost a small part of his ear in a scuffle but that was the extent of the damage. Other than that: Good times had by all.


      Aug 1, 2012 at 10:53pm

      Some people have far too much free time on their hands.


      Aug 2, 2012 at 3:18am

      I don't understand why the hell do parks close at all? There are already rules against causing disturbances, etc. -- enforce those and let the dog walkers, beach sitters, and others enjoy themselves.


      Aug 2, 2012 at 4:53am

      The celebration of light fireworks aren't taking place until 10 p.m. or after, because it isn't dark enough. So it does seem a bit early.

      Jay P

      Aug 2, 2012 at 6:04am

      Glad to see the library system with a hiring freeze while the city is still finding funds to keep a bunch of power tripping joy kills busy down at wreck beach.