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Nude beach, mending fences

Fencing has now gone up at the access point to the nude beach at Three Mile Beach in Penticton.

The fence is the owner's latest effort to keep people off his property. Last week, no trespassing signs appeared and there were, and continue to be, security guards at the site.

"We appreciate the fact that so many people like our private property, but the fact is it's private," said the owner, who declined to be named.

City officials say he is entitled to do that. While the city owns Three Mile Beach, beyond it, to the east, is private property and has been for years.

"It's private property from the high water mark, which is the highest level the lake has, basically an elevation point along the foreshore," said Anthony Haddad, the City's director of development services. "If it's private property based on that high water mark, he does not need the City's permission to put in the fence."

Natural resource officers from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations were also at the beach site on Monday to assess the situation.

The officers asked the landowner to take down the portion of the fence located on crown land so the public can legally access the beach without crossing private land.

The crownland in question is located on the foreshore below the present natural boundary, which is the average high water mark, as the lake level fluctuates from year to year.

Officers will continue to monitor the situation.

In response, the owner said he was aware and is probably going to move the fence up one meter.

People have been using 99 percent of the property for years, he said. But recently there have been some real, real issues, with a very wealthy individual from Alberta who was interested in investing in the land, being chased off by a trespasser.

The loss of beach access is upsetting to those who use it. Many say it has been a clothing optional beach dating back to the 1930s and is popular with tourists, as well as locals.

"I'm disappointed to see the fence going up," said Penticton resident Rick Giles. "I think there could have been further discussion before this happened. We are not questioning the owner's property rights. For us it's about foreshore usage and access to the beach."

Giles said he and others maintained a presence at a no trespassing sign on the beach over the weekend, to diffuse any tensions with out of town visitors, and to show respect for the line that had been drawn.

He said it was his understanding there was one police incident on Saturday afternoon.

A visitor he didn't know, started tearing down the signs, he said.

"Security dealt with him and then the RCMP came and had a talk with him," he said. "It's unfortunate we didn't have a chance to meet with him and discourage his actions."

Penticton RCMP confirmed the incident did take place and they say they are aware of what is going on at the beach.

Giles said concerned beach goers are keeping an eye on the situation. There is also an online petition on the 3Mile Clothing Optional Beach Facebook page.

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