With the arrest of a naturist on Three Mile Beach on Canada Day, the legality of nudity on the public beach is now in the hands of the court system.
Penticton RCMP Staff Sgt. Kurt Lozinski said on July 1 an officer attended the beach on a complaint of public nudity. The individual initially refused to provide a name to officers, but Jacqueline Wachell told the Western News last week she was the one taken into custody.
“The individual was very cooperative, physically cooperative, but still refused to provide their name,” Lozinski said.
Wachell was arrested for obstructing justice and public nudity and, after providing her name to police, was released with the condition not to attend Three Mile Beach and a promise to appear at a July 29 court date.
The police have been left stuck between a city council decision to leave the beach, which naturists claim has been a nude beach for decades, at the status quo, and property owners like Cary Pinkowski who has launched a civil lawsuit against Wachell and five other defendants.
“I do think that some determination needs to be made for this area. There are Supreme Court decisions that will be taken into consideration as Crown looks at this matter,” Lozinski said. “Everybody needs a definitive answer on the direction that needs to be taken. On all parties. Whether it’s the City, it’s police, it’s Crown, it’s the naturists or the homeowners in the area.”
The next step will be whether or not the Provincial Crown will proceed with the charges.
“It will be left with them to determine the direction where we’re going to go. We can only present the facts, it’ll be up to Crown whether or not they want to press charges,” Lozinski said. “This is one of those definitive matters that (we) need a response to and we’ll know which direction were going to go after that. Of course though, every situation will be looked at on its own merit.”
Lozinski said while he understands the issue is a big one for property owners and naturists alike, there are other matters that require more police attention.
“It’s (the property owner’s) number one issue, doesn’t equate to our number one priority. Public nudity, unfortunately, based on other files of significance, homicides, kidnappings and the rest of it, we put things in its priority, and unfortunately public nudity isn’t always a priority to us,” Lozinski said. “Probably to the frustration of the homeowners, we aren’t always in a position to respond immediately, so it has created a little bit of frustration, I imagine, on their part.”