My wife and I built a house and moved to Boundary Bay just over 30 years ago. During that time we raised three children and have enjoyed the beauty and seclusion of the Bay. Now, as the Bay is expanding into the Southlands, I would like to reflect on what makes an area a community.
I submit that there were four buildings that contributed greatly to the sense of community in Boundary Bay. First, there was the Boundary Beach Elementary, which was, for many years, the focal point of activity in the Bay.
We got to know all the kids and their parents through the many school activities like play day and barbecues where the kids would do the “chicken dance.” When that school was closed, and the kids were bused out of the Bay, a piece of community was lost.
Second, there was the corner store, just down from the school. You could walk over and have a coffee and pick up a few groceries while running into friends and neighbours. Third, the Bayside Squash Club. People could hang out there and it would host an occasional dance night.
Finally, the beach stand. Yes, it was an unattractive, rundown old building, but it would be open from spring to fall and during the winter on nice weekends. You would always run into neighbours and kids having something to eat there. The food was not very healthy, but no one died.
All four of these facilities are gone now, leaving only memories of the fun and spirit they unknowingly inhabited. People don’t need state of the art community centres when all they want is some old places they can walk to and encounter friends and neighbours. People need a place to hang out together again in the Bay and, in the words of Joni Mitchell, “you don’t know what you’ve lost till it’s gone.”
As we look forward to the town centre in the Southlands, I hope that some of this great sense of community would be re-established for the next generation of Bay residences. Many of the kids who attended Boundary Beach Elementary are in their early 30s now and moving back to Tsawwassen to start families.
I think that the Mills’ Four Winds facility would be a heartbeat of community within the Bay. Across North America, there are over 7,000 artisan breweries, the majority of which are in residential areas where they greatly contribute to the social fabric of their communities.
Downtown Vancouver and Victoria have many of these breweries adjacent to high density residential. These facilities are stainless steel clean, and the left over brewer’s mash is used for animal feed or compost. The idea of growing hops next door on the designated farmland is a great idea. Further, the Mills family is a Boundary Bay family. What could be better?
So I would urge Delta council to stop playing petty politics and get on with doing its job, which is to help build community spirit in areas of new development.