White Rock’s Marine Drive was bumper-to-bumper traffic and most parking lots were full Sunday afternoon as temperatures reached 19C.
Low-tide offered families the opportunity to stay physically distanced while the promenade and Memorial Park were relatively busy.
Restaurants, which are currently restricted to patio-only dining due to COVID-19 restrictions, also experienced an increase in business due to the warm weather. The dining restrictions, which were originally slated to end April 19, have been extended until mid-May.
City of White Rock council is scheduled to have a special meeting Monday to discuss COVID-19 prevention measures on the waterfront.
Council is to receive a staff report at the meeting which lists a number of COVID-19 prevention measures, specific to the waterfront.
The options to be considered include:
• Fence off the entire promenade
• Close parking lots
• Create parking spaces specifically for the pickup of takeout in designated lots adjacent to restaurants
• Limit waterfront parking lots to White Rock residents with parking decals
• Reserve a parking lot for restaurant patrons only
• Fence off specific problematic areas including areas in front of restaurants where lineups occur
• Close the pier
• Install additional signage
• Close Marine Drive
• Designate Marine Drive to one-way only traffic
• Close the West Beach Parkade
• Hire private security to help with enforcement effort
• Initiate communication with Semiahmoo First Nation to consider partial or full closure of SFN’s public parking lot
• Add additional RCMP officers on the weekends
• Adjust bylaw schedule to allow more flexibility with hours to assist with enforcement efforts.
• Hire additional bylaw officers
• Request the province consider giving City of White Rock vaccine priority as it is a popular destination
• Initiate communication with BNSF police regarding the need for uniformed officers to assist with enforcement efforts along railway
“The popularity of White Rock as a destination community particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and desire to be outdoors has resulted in regular crowding on the waterfront,” Fire Chief Ed Wolfe wrote in the report to council. “The influx of people in our community during the pandemic creates additional risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission.”
Last year, the city temporarily closed its waterfront parking lots, parkade, pier and promenade as a preventative measure against the spread of COVID-19.
Following the publication of this article, several Marine Drive restaurant owners shared their position on the options to be considered by council.
Uli’s Restaurant owner Tyson Blume suggested the city come up with ways to encourage COVID-safe practices on the beach.
“Perhaps more enforcement, perhaps one way paths, I’m not sure but I just hate the idea of closing down,” Blume wrote on Facebook. “There’s been enough of that. There must be some high level strategies to help us stay open but be safe. Please stay open and offer locals who are pent up in small living spaces a place to recreate. Try to stay consistent as the city and as a brand.”
Jaclynn Villanueva, who owns Primo’s Mexican Grill, wrote that she is “completely opposed” to shutting down.
“How about police the places that are NOT following rules and leave the rest of us alone to try and make a living so we don’t have to close down!” Villanueva wrote on Facebook. “Instead of fencing everything up use the money to hire more people to enforce the rules so we can enjoy what we pay very high rents and taxes for!”