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White Rock considers closing parking lots, pier after crowded weekend

Last Updated Apr 22, 2021 at 9:14 am PDT

FILE: The pier re-opened on Aug. 27, 2019 after months of repairs. (Kurtis Doering/NEWS 1130 Photo)

White Rock's mayor says the vast majority of people along the promenade and pier were not wearing masks

Darryl Walker says council may decide to close parking lots, fence off pier and promenade

"If you don't need to come down here and you're from somewhere else ... please stay home," says Walker

WHITE ROCK (NEWS 1130) – The City of White Rock wants to stop you from visiting the beach, unless you live around there.

City Council began looking at its options Monday, after seeing big crowds over the weekend. A second meeting will be held Wednesday to continue the discussion. The meeting was called because of concern about the spread of COVID-19, when the waterfront gets crowded.

Mayor Darryl Walker says council may decide to close the parking lots.

“We did that, I think, basically for three months,” he said. “About a year ago … when this first came in March, April, May and so on, we shut it down for a good period of time. And as the summer came along, the numbers seemed to go down.”

“We have the ability to fence off and shut down the promenade and we certainly have the ability to shut down the pier,” Walker added.

But he admits there are businesses in the area that are struggling.

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“We’re trying to help them as much as we can, by allowing either pickup or takeout because very few of them have enough space to have patio areas. We want to try and support them, as well, so it’s a balancing act that we’re trying to provide,” he said.

While we’re allowed to go outside with some people who aren’t in our immediate household, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that doesn’t mean we should.

According to Walker, very few people along the promenade and pier were wearing masks over the weekend.

“It’s a big area, including the promenade, the walkways, … and the pier,” he admitted, noting it’s nonetheless concerning, given the spread of COVID-19 variants in B.C.

He’s reminding people to stay as close to home as possible.

“If you don’t need to come down here and you’re from somewhere else — Langley, Delta, farther out in North Surrey, and so on — please stay home. Stay in your neighbourhoods. I think that’s what Dr. Bonnie Henry is asking people to do,” he said.

Like many other health and political leaders in B.C., Walker is also urging people to wear masks.

“Is it that difficult to wear a mask? It was, I guessed, about 10 per cent of the people down there [over the weekend] had masks. The rest of them did not. That’s pretty damning of our society, in terms of what we’re being asked to do to get through this and still be able to enjoy a little bit of outdoor time.

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Last week, Dr. Henry said if you must gather with others, you should be taking the necessary precautions.

“It needs to be the same, small group of people,” she said Thursday. “We know that outside is lower risk. It’s not zero, but it is lower risk.”

Henry said we all need to keep our distance, and if we’re seeing someone outside and are closer together, we should be wearing masks.

“It is about the number of people that we are in close contact with without using our protections,” she explained. “So that means indoor environments are riskier than outdoor environments. We have larger numbers of people, if we’re talking loudly, if we’re singing, if we’re in a poorly ventilated area — those are riskier situations and there’s no margin for error right now.”