Sun-seekers who frequent Penticton’s only nude beach have been forced to cover up, after the property owner hired a security guard and installed No Trespassing signs to keep people away.
Dustin Wolchina, who spoke to reporters Saturday on behalf of beachgoers, said access to the clothing-optional portion of Three Mile Beach was cut off earlier this week after someone caused problems while the property owner was showing the site to a potential buyer.
The troublemaker is not a regular beach user, Wolchina added.
“Everybody is friendly. It’s a good, large community. Everybody talks to everybody, and we’ve never had any real problems with anything, other than a few people causing the odd little tiff here and there over a spot or stuff like that,” he said.
Now his group, which he says has maintained and improved the beach area for decades, is without a place to enjoy the sun in their birthday suits.
The users also maintain that the beach itself is Crown land and therefore public, while only the steep cliffs and bench land above are private.
However, local realtor Kirk Chamberlain, who spoke on behalf of the unidentified owner, said the property line extends to the high-water mark and therefore includes nearly the entire beach.
The owner has worked with beach users since 2007, Chamberlain noted, but has grown worried about liability issues.
“And now that he’s decided not to develop the property himself, he has to sell it to potential investors,” the realtor continued, “and it seems that all the investors we’ve dealt with so far are very concerned that they may have a problem changing the nude beach, and that really changes the value of the land.”
The seven-hectare property is listed for $3 million. Two-thirds of it is planted with grapes, while the site also boasts 260 metres of beachfront, according to an online advertisement.
Beach users have now started an online petition for the owner to reopen the site, and intend to appeal to the city to help find them a new home or even buy the beach.
Penticton Mayor Garry Litke couldn’t be reached for comment Saturday.
Wolchina said Three Mile is revered in nudist circles.
“There’s people from all over the world that come here just for this beach and stay here just for this beach,” he said.
“We have everybody from bikers to cross-dressers, businessmen, lawyers, families with kids, air force pilots. You name it, we get them down here.”