Kindness is free and respect is perceptive. To influence change, it all starts with ourselves. When we treat others with respect, others will respect us. At the very least, we can try to lead by example.

In 2022, more people seem to have lost that sense of respect. Let’s be honest, we can all tolerate trouble to a certain point; no one and nothing is perfect. However, without enforcing a level of respectful behaviour, it seems we are approaching a tipping point on our Vancouver beaches where things are declining rapidly.

Since the beginning of the pandemic with people being urged to spend more time outdoors (this should have been a good thing), we have seen an increase in excessive noise due to loud, amplified music, alcohol-fueled parties, and disorderly conduct on our beaches and in our parks.

At A Beach for Everyone, we aim to create a respectful beach environment, so that everyone can enjoy themselves on our beaches. We strongly believe that everyone should respect the environment, fellow beachgoers, and local residents.

A Beach for Everyone was founded in 2021 by Paul Melhus and a group of local residents in the West End with the mission of “ensuring our beaches and parks are a safe haven where everyone can come to enjoy nature and natural sounds.”

Originally from Australia, I moved to the West End in early 2021 and had no idea just how important my connection to nature would become until the pandemic forced me, along with many others, to pause our lives, pivot our careers and reignite our passion for the simple things in life.

How quickly our moods changed: First appreciating time spent out in nature exploring and enjoying the fresh air, and then feeling the need to “blow off steam” due to the pandemic pushing everyone outdoors.

We have seen blatant disrespect and disregard for the environment, whether littering, smoking, excess and underage drinking, or excessive noise pollution. It seems that most people have only one concern: ‘I’m on the beach to have a good time, and I will do what I want.’

This increasing sense of self-entitlement and a lack of self-awareness can negatively impact those around us. It looks as if most people are no longer invested in the community, and some comments on social media also reflect this.

Lack of enforcement also encourages bad behaviour. As it stands now, the park rangers are sometimes reluctant to shut things down. What is the point of the bylaws if they are not enforced?

While not everyone comes to the beach to enjoy quiet time and recharge, what about fellow beachgoers who are there to unwind, destress and strengthen their connection with nature?

We aim to build a community of engaged volunteers who strive to improve local beach culture to ensure our beaches and parks are for everyone. Our Beach Ambassadors will ensure beachgoers are aware of the benefits of being in nature to experience nature and natural sounds. Find out more about our Ambassadors program or apply here >

We recently surveyed almost 250 West End residents to learn about their attitudes toward our beaches. Over 48% responded that they live one to three blocks from the beach.

Regarding noise, 69.3% reported it as disturbing, while 30.6% reported it not affecting them.  Not unexpectedly, those who live closer to the beach are more affected.

The other issue where attitudes diverge concerns the musicians and buskers on and around our beaches.   30.47% of residents surveyed said, “I don’t come to the beach to see performers – I want to relax”; 28.76% said, “they are fine if they are not amplified”; 26.61% said, “I love the live entertainment – no changes needed” and 12.88% said, “it should be better organized”. You can view the full survey results here.

— Author: Holly Hayes

As a growing organization, we are here to improve the beach experience for everyone, we would love to hear from you. Please follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay in the loop.