16 March 2009

An unpublished letter to the editor from Mike Cotter re: Jericho Wharf

Dear Editor:

I am writing to correct some misconceptions left by the March 4 letters of the organizers of the group seeking to reverse the former Vancouver Park Board’s decision to return Central Jericho Beach to its natural state.

This year the Jericho Sailing Centre Association is celebrating 35 years of providing low cost, accessible ocean access opportunities to the people of Vancouver in small, naturally powered craft-ocean kayaks, row boats, windsurfers, canoes and sailing dinghies. The Jericho Sailing Centre, the former Jericho Beach Air Station “Building 13”, recycled by our non-profit volunteer driven organization has always been accessible to the public-it is our mission-over 15,000 people accessed Vancouver’s ocean playground from our facility in 2008 including the 8,000 who went through our ocean kayaking, windsurfing and dinghy sailing lesson programs. Vancouver’s demand for such ocean access will continue to grow in the future.

The beach adjacent to the Jericho Sailing Centre is the only public park space specifically designated to allow ocean access for small naturally powered craft in Vancouver. There were over 150,000 launches from this busy public space last year, a stark contrast to the sparsely used 1 ½ acre dilapidated concrete wharf immediately east of it.
During the original public consultation process the members of the JSCA and other users of the Jericho Sailing Centre were among the majority who favoured the complete removal of the Jericho wharf and reinstatement of the natural beach. The eventual decision to retain a 5,000 square foot section of the eastern end of the wharf for public viewing and commemorative purposes was supported by the JSCA.

In his letter to the Courier Mr. Gary Wedeking is incorrect when he states that the JSCA presented “relatively detailed plans” to expand the sailing centre launch facilities into the natural beach. In fact, I was careful at the meeting he refers to, to reference the Park Board’s own wording with respect to the positive aspects of the decision to remove the wharf which included, along with the obvious economic and environmental “Pro’s”, that the removal of the majority of the wharf provided the greatest flexibility for future public recreational use.

Considering the historic significance of the adjacent native village of E’eyoughmough, dating back thousands of years, it’s not a huge stretch to imagine what possible future uses might include and that the local population may, once again, choose to launch canoes and other small naturally powered craft from a naturally reinstated Central Jericho Beach.

The future recreational use of Central Jericho Beach will undoubtedly involve a separate public consultation process. In the meantime the natural beach recently liberated by the former Park Board faces the grimly ironic possibility that the current, self professed “greener” Park Board may choose to reoccupy it with 400 creosote leeching pilings, 1 ½ acres of crumbling concrete and an ongoing maintenance bill expected to exceed one million dollars over the next ten years.


Mike Cotter,
General Manager

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