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Nude beach conflict

The nude beach on Penticton's Three Mile Road is no more.

The property is owned by the Pinkowski family, who had no trespassing signs put up a few days ago and hired security guards to keep watch.

Locals, who have been using the beach for years, are unhappy with the move and are unsure what their rights are, or where to go next.

Dustin Wolchina acted as spokesperson for the small group of about 10 beach goers that had set up on the public property side of the signs.

"We don't know what we're going to do," he said. "There's people that come from all over the world for this beach."

The Pinkowskis, who live in Vancouver, bought the land in 2006. Cary Pinkowski said his family is currently undecided about whether to develop the land, or try and sell it. 

"We have been trying to sell the property for quite a while now. About a month ago we had a guy who was interested, but was chased off the land by these trespassers," he said. 

"This was a wealthy guy who wanted to invest in the land and in Penticton - he just put his hands up and walked right off the property."

Pinkowski said his family didn't mind the beach goers, but in the past month there has been mischief and damage and they have had enough. 

"It's gotten to the point that these trespassers are hurting all of us - I don't know if they even realized it's private property," he said. 

Waterfront property is public property up to the high water mark. Neither the property owner or the beach goers had a clear sense of what that meant, both saying it was a visual thing "where the sand colour changes." However, with changing seasons and water levels, the water mark does shift throughout the year.

Rick Giles who lives on Three Mile Road said the property owner is usurping public property and is actually causing damage to riparian areas that are part of the land.

"The property is currently zoned agricultural, its future zoning is agricultural, and there is no way the public use of this foreshore is interfering with his agricultural operations or his ability to sell this piece of property for agricultural use in the future."

"The public uses the beach 365 days a year," he said. "The community has cared for this area, the community has built this area up. This beach is meant to be enjoyed by the public."

Pinkowski said that in the past different lots have been zoned for single-family dwellings on the waterfront.

Land zoned for agricultural use can have one house on it. 

Wolchina said that his group is considering petitioning the city to buy the land for them. 

Penticton city councillor Helena Konanz, although unaware of any conflict over the beach, said, "If council recognizes that there's a substantial number of tax payers that want this piece of land, then we would definitely consider it, as we would any petition;" adding that the number of signatures needed could be below 1,000.

For now, the regular users of the beach say they want to be respectful and work with the owner. They don't plan to trespass and will stay on the public side of the beach. But with the tourist season and the warm weather just beginning, it is difficult to say how long that civility will last.

 

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