Lessons from the Nude Beach

As I write this column, I recognize it's an unusual topic… but, hear me out…

Vancouver has a lot of famous landmarks. And one of those landmarks is Wreck Beach, a clothing-optional beach.

I went to Wreck Beach a few weeks ago with a friend.

When he originally asked me to go, I was skeptical. At that point, I hadn’t been to any such beaches and I had some pre-conceived notions about clothing-optional beaches. Basically, I thought it would be uncomfortable.

But, my friend insisted that it had a beautiful view of the ocean, was very secluded, and that it’s full of nice people.

He convinced me. And so we went.

It was a Sunday in July and it is very busy. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, at all.

Everyone around us was friendly and talkative. And the view of the ocean was incredible, particularly at sunset. I was impressed.

Now, this may sound like I am giving a glowing endorsement of Wreck Beach. But, I’m not…

There are problems with Wreck Beach...

For some context of the problems, there are several rules at Wreck Beach, which include:

  1. Don’t stare or gawk;
  2. Don’t photograph; and
  3. Don’t video-record.

The rules of Wreck Beach can be seen on its website.

Now, I agree that the rules (in theory) seem fine. But, there are problems…

To start, the rules are enforced by the Regulars, the people who regularly go to Wreck Beach. And the rules aren’t enforced equally, which (at least to me) is unfair.

Here’s an example:

Now, you aren’t allowed to gawk or stare, right? Well, from speaking to some people, I learned that the “Don’t stare/gawk” rule applies LESS if you’re naked yourself. So, basically, the less clothing you are wearing, the more freedom you have to walk around the beach and look at nude sunbathers.

Is that fair? I don’t think so. If someone doesn’t want to be gawked at, is it better that the person doing the gawking is naked themselves? If anything, I would think it would be more uncomfortable…

Oddly enough, this made me think of our legal system.

In our legal system, we have some core principles. And one of those core principals is that everyone is equal before the law and that the laws apply to everyone, EQUALLY. So, it doesn’t matter who you are friends with, what societal position you have, or what you’re doing: the laws apply to you, period. And that’s a great thing.

Another core principle in our legal system is that laws have to be clear. This is a REQUIREMENT. And, it’s something that we should be proud of. Laws need to be written clearly so everyone knows what is required and expected of them. And, if they aren’t written clearly, then such laws are challenged in court and they are changed.

Remember the rules from Wreck Beach? They are incredibly vague!

Consider the rules regarding taking photographs.

My friend told me that he witnessed someone take a photograph of the ocean at sunset. And, even though the photograph didn’t have any sunbathers in it, the fellow taking the picture was still questioned and verbally attacked.

But, was this photograph really against the rules?

Surely the rule against photography is meant to protect the privacy of sunbathers. So, if there are no sunbathers in the photograph, then there is no problem, right?

Well, that’s the problem: we don’t know. Obviously, the rules could be clearer – and if they were, the fellow who took the ocean photograph could have avoided the verbal onslaught.

Now, it may sound like I am attacking Wreck Beach, but I’m not. It’s a beach…a nice beach, in fact. I am just using it to describe some core principles in our legal system…some core principles that every Canadian should be proud of.

Now go enjoy the sun.


**The information contained in this column should not be treated by readers as legal advice and should not be relied on without detailed legal counsel being sought.

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About the Author

Jeff Zilkowsky is a lawyer practicing at MacLean Law in the Lower Mainland and in Kelowna, and focuses his practice on family law and litigation.  

In his column, Jeff provides information about current legal events or points of interest or concern relating to the law. 

The information contained in Jeff’s column should not be used or relied upon as legal advice.

Comments are always appreciated and encouraged, so don’t hesitate to email Jeff at [email protected]

Visit Jeff’s website at www.jeffzilkowsky.com or visit the website of MacLean Law.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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