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BEYOND THE HEADLINES: Pier opportunity arises

If you believe some of the social media comments, Coldstream council consists of nothing but twisted, old men whose only goal in life is to snatch away the fun of young people.

On top of this, the elected officials are portrayed as weak-kneed when it comes to illegal activity at the Kal Beach pier.

“It’s sad that even council seems to have the attitude of a lazy parent — ‘Just take it away.’ No lesson learned, no real repercussions. Because I’m sure if the pier is gone all that illegal activity will stop, right?” wrote one person on Facebook.

Now before we go any further, it should be pointed out that at least three members of council grew up here and their summer days were filled with splashing through the cool water of Kal Lake and sitting on the pier. And all seven members of council are parents of children who evolved from diapers to their late teens at Kal Beach.

These are not evil people who have forgot about what it’s like to be young. Nor are they mad with power.

What they are is frustrated, and there is definitely good reason given what’s been happening lately.

Particularly concerning is that as soon the district posted a barricade indicating the pier was closed because of high water levels, people were walking around the barrier and heading out on to the dock. They can obviously read, but off they went and in some cases, there were dozens of them out there.

When you are an elected official, you are responsible for boring, but important, things like liability, and not knowing what the rising tide may be doing to the integrity of the pier puts sunbathers at risk. If something were to happen and the pier hadn’t been shut down, those same people criticizing council now would have been calling for heads.

And if storm-related repairs are required, it makes sense to look at the investment compared to the use of the pier and costs such as policing and bylaw enforcement when problems arise.

All of this said, the pier isn’t going anywhere. Yes, frustration abounds but Coldstream’s elected officials fully understand the importance of the dock to the social and economic fabric of the community.

If anything, the controversy over possibly ripping the pier out has been a positive. It has forced many residents to take notice of what is going on down there, whether it’s drinking and drugs or fights.

Council should immediately seize on the momentum and find ways to address any unacceptable behaviours. Not surprisingly, there’s policing and bylaw enforcement, but the heavy hand isn’t necessarily the best option.

Other opportunities may include working directly with students at the local high schools about how to keep the pier safe for all, or encouraging residents and the weekly beach volleyball players to serve as unofficial ambassadors.

Obviously we don’t want anyone put at physical risk, but additional eyes and ears may help deter those not following the rules.

At the end of the day, Coldstream council may be responsible but that is our beach and pier. It belongs to all of us and we all play a role in its future.