By Holly Hayes | Managing Director, A Beach for Everyone
What happened to “Love Thy Neighbour?” This age-old concept is familiar to everyone.
At A Beach for Everyone, we believe that everyone should respect our beaches. They are where we live, where we come to play and enjoy swimming, the sun, and nature. They should be welcoming places for all ages who want to enjoy these activities peacefully and safely. People using the beach should be respectful of the environment, their fellow beachgoers, and the residents that live nearby.
It’s what we mean when we say “Love Thy Neighbour.” When did we stop respecting each other? When did we stop showing common courtesy to our fellow beachgoers? When did we stop caring about the environment?
We are witnessing a growing disrespect and disregard for the environment, whether it be littering, smoking, excess and underage drinking, or excessive noise pollution. It seems that most people only care about one thing: “I’m on the beach to have a good time and I will do what I want.” Cigarette butts alone, once they make it to the water, are toxic to wildlife.
In reality, we can only help and heal the world if we first help and heal ourselves. So, take a moment to reflect on how you conduct yourself while out in nature, whether you’re strolling on the seawall, sitting on the beach, or visiting a park. Is the way you treat others how you would like them to treat you?
There seems to be a growing sense of self-entitlement and a lack of self-awareness about how one’s actions can negatively affect those around them. It seems like a lot of people are not invested in the community anymore. We understand that everyone spends time outdoors for different reasons, but nature is the only place that we can come to enjoy, connect and hear nature.
Over the winter we did some research and connected with like-minded people and organizations that have also taken matters into their own hands to ensure their favourite beaches are respected and cared for.
The concept of having a group of volunteers, known as Beach Ambassadors who are there to walk the beach and supplement the Lifeguards, Rangers & VPD that are typically underfunded and understaffed. The idea is that a Beach Ambassador is essentially Neighbourhood Watch for the beach.
Gary Mussell from Friends of Bates Beach in California told us “Our Ambassadors walk the Beach where the Lifeguards aren’t stationed and the Police can’t easily get to. They are the eyes and ears for what is going on, and since they legally cannot arrest or detain anyone, their role is to observe and report any potential dangers or disturbances.”
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need any of this because people would “Love Thy Neighbour” but, residents of the West End agree that things have changed. It’s the few people that ruin it for everybody – this is not our opinion, this is what we found from conducting two surveys last year.
Last year over 230 people answered and only 27% of you said “I feel completely safe at all times” at English Bay and 69% of you have been disturbed by excessive noise.
Laurie Reichenbach previously from Visit South Walton in Florida proudly shared “We were discouraged at how the tourists would treat the beaches, so we took our concerns to the community and asked them to get involved. We recruited 45 volunteers in our first year, 100 in our second year and within 5 years we had over 230 Beach Ambassador Volunteers walking the beach for a total of 8000 hours”
It’s a complicated topic and it’s unfortunate that it has come to this, but we ask you to join us in protecting our beaches and promoting respect by registering your interest in becoming a Beach Ambassador and keeping up to date with volunteer opportunities! https://abeachforeveryone.org/take-actions/