A couple of years back we vowed we were finally going to visit Buntzen Lake after hearing good reviews about it from so many different people. So one sunny Saturday morning in the summer we packed up the car and made our way toward Port Moody to enjoy this popular destination.
Well, we got as far as the park's front entrance only to find out the parking lots were already full and the gates were closed for the day. It was all of about 10 a.m. at this point. We quickly re-routed to nearby White Pine Beach, managing to get a parking spot there before that gate was also closed for the day.
I share these minutiae of my life not to bore you (I know, it's too late for that), but to offer a cautionary tale about a community amenity that gets so popular it becomes a regional destination, to the detriment of those who live locally.
I raise this point because along with the improvements slated for Centennial Beach is a desire to share this "hidden gem" with the rest of the Lower Mainland in a bid to boost economic activity through tourism.
I don't consider myself too much of a NIMBY, and I recognize the need for economic stimulus, but when it comes to our prized beach, forgive me but I'm not in much of a sharing mood.
How would you like to show up at the entrance to Centennial Beach with a car full of kids only to find a "Lot Full" sign there to greet you? I imagine their faces would be something like the one my kid was wearing that day at Buntzen Lake.
Now, I'm not suggesting Delta or Metro Vancouver is going to be padlocking the entrance to Centennial any time soon, but the more people attracted to the beach, the more difficult it will become to find a parking spot, a place to plunk down the towels and blankets, or a picnic table.
That, I'm quite certain, is not what people in these parts would like to see happen as it would turn an otherwise enjoyable day at the beach into an aggravating search to find their own tiny slice of sun and sand.
Tsawwassen has never been much for density or congestion, so I can't imagine that would be welcomed in this most natural of all areas. It doesn't matter how many improvements are made, or how attractive they are, Centennial Beach is still a finite space and can only accommodate so many people - at least comfortably.
So while I welcome the upgrades Delta and Metro Vancouver are undertaking and contemplating, I wouldn't mind keeping this "hidden gem" our little secret.