A decision to erect a police tent at a Vancouver nude beach is drawing criticism from some who say a constant RCMP presence will detract from the easy-going vibe at the popular summertime hotspot.
Beginning on the May long weekend, Mounties will set up a command post at the clothing-optional Wreck Beach, where nudity is legal and drug and alcohol use is commonplace.
In a bid to crack down on overdoses and open-air sexual activity, two officers will patrol the beach seven days a week from a "portable police station", which will include a table and chairs to encourage engagement with beachgoers.
"Part of our strategy is to try and blend with the community, embrace the community, and try and immerse ourselves in the culture," Sgt. Drew Grainger told CTV Vancouver.
Grainger said the popular enclave, located at the bottom of a steep cliff near the University of British Columbia, poses a burden to emergency services every year.
"It's very difficult for us to get people back up those 465 stairs," he said.
Mounties have acknowledged that moderate drinking and drug use will continue to take place at Wreck Beach, but he said discreet individuals will not be their main targets, as police and beachgoers have come to a "mutual agreement" on what is tolerable and what is not.
"Our objective here is to try and keep the overconsumption of alcohol and drugs to a minimum, knowing that it's going to happen one way or another, by being in a dialogue with people,” he said.
In the past, Mounties have resorted to calling in Coast Guard vessels to get severely intoxicated people off the beach, putting a strain on police resources.
However, Wreck Beach regulars say the area is very peaceful and the police tent is a waste of resources.
"People want to come down and they don't want the police with their tent to be babysitters," said Wreck Beach burger vendor Norman Auclair. "If we need them, we call them."
Another beachgoer said the police tent will "kill the vibe" in the area.
"You have naked people, I mean how dangerous are we, and it doesn't fit with the bullet proof vests and the guns."
Another Wreck Beach visitor said if police truly want to fit in, "they should go nude as well."