LETTERS: Celebrate 16 years of Fred Gingell Park stairs

Editor:

Re: Tsawwassen Beach Access 16th Anniversary Saturday, Sept. 26

Saturday, Sept. 26 is the 16th Anniversary of the official opening of the Fred Gingell Park stairs, and public access to Tsawwassen Beach. It is hard to believe that it has been around long enough to be a fixture in Tsawwassen.

The beach trail is one of the most popular and used public amenities in all of Delta, giving a great route down to one of the most beautiful western beaches in Canada.

It has varied and regular users from the community including grandparents with young grandchildren, high school and elementary students, even professional athletes working on team training, adults of all ages making it integral to their fitness and health, families, friends and Tsawwassen visitors.  

It is interesting now to think back and remember the opposition and bitter controversy that surrounded gaining this access, and this resource, and how it divided the community for a time.  

Happily, that is now just a memory for some, while most users today are not even aware that it was a very big deal! Politics is always temporary, community prevails!

At this time of year we usually encourage everyone to get out on the trail and celebrate the 16th anniversary; build up a sweat, go for a walk on the beach, and never take for granted that you can do this freely. 

However, these are extraordinary times, with the COVID-19 pandemic, and unfortunately the Beach Access trail has been closed for many months. It would be great if the closure could be lifted and the trail could be re-opened, as has happened with the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver. If, however, the trail closure is going to continue indefinitely, perhaps some creative ideas or efforts could be applied to restore Beach Access and the outstanding recreational, fitness and social resource it has been to this community for many years. It does not look like the 2nd Beach Access down by the highway will be happening any time soon, if so it would be there now. 

The Beach Access trail stairs as they now exist do not easily make a two-meter distancing COVID-19 style feasible, or easy. An ideal, simple solution would be to “twin” the trail and stairs, and build a second set of stairs one to two meters to the right or left of the exiting set, allowing one set of stairs/trail to be used for going down the trail, and the other for going up. The space and land is certainly there, access for construction is easier now than during original installation, and the cost to Delta would not be excessive, considering level of use this park facility serves up to the community. Delta has not had to invest much to maintain or improve the trail over the years so investing in some dollars for improving the Beach Access trail should be easily justified. Perhaps a GoFundMe program could be considered to help out Delta in this. 

Tsawwassen Beach Access has been too important to surrender to COVID-19 protocol, especially when there are solutions available, and also especially given the example of Metro Vancouver putting large groups of people from other areas of the Lower Mainland on buses all summer long to flood Centennial Beach. Surely Delta can create a solution to restore the much loved and used Tsawwassen Beach Stairs for local people from our own community? We and many others, miss this remarkable outdoor stair-master, and we miss being on beautiful Tsawwassen Beach. 

Bob and Donna Bracken

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