Penticton’s mayor has already poured cold water on a forthcoming request to have the city create a nude beach for sun-seekers who have been chased from their former sanctuary.
Nudists were using a secluded portion of waterfront near Three Mile Beach, but discovered last week the adjacent property owner had erected No Trespassing signs and hired a security guard to keep people away.
Dustin Wolchina, speaking on behalf of the beachgoers, said he hoped a meeting Tuesday would result in the formation of a committee to ask the city to purchase the Three Mile retreat or find a new home for the nudists.
That committee faces an uphill battle.
“We’ve created a tiny little beach for the dogs, but we’re not going to start parcelling off beaches for any kind of special interests,” said Mayor Garry Litke.
He acknowledged nudists could designate a secluded portion of waterfront elsewhere as their own, as happened at Three Mile, but, “if they chose to do that, they would have to deal with whatever feedback they got.”
Wolchina told reporters assembled at the site Saturday that users had improved and maintained the area at Three Mile for decades, but access was cut off after someone caused problems while the property owner was showing the land to a potential buyer.
He noted the beach 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,” Wolchina 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.”
None were welcome when the property owner put up a fence Monday to block access. However, B.C. government officials ordered a section of the fence removed that was on, and blocked, Crown land below Okanagan Lake’s high-water mark, which denotes the boundary between public and private property.
Greg Bethel, a spokesman for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said the property owner complied voluntarily and staff continue to monitor the situation.
Wooden stakes were left in the ground to indicate the property line and effectively cut off most of the usable beach area favoured by nudists.
Local realtor Kirk Chamberlain, who spoke on behalf of the property owner, said his client worked with beach users in the past, but has become worried about liability issues.
“And now that he’s decided not to develop the property himself, he has to sell it to potential investors,” Chamberlain said, “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, most of which is situated on a bench high above the water, 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.