On hot, sunny summer days in Vancouver, downtown’s English Bay beach is the place to be. But a bit of shade can be hard to find.
That may be about to change with a new initiative from the Vancouver park board. The board is actively looking for vendors to rent beach chairs and umbrellas to the public at English Bay.
The idea behind the pilot program is to give Vancouver beachgoers access to the same amenities available at beaches around the world. Currently, sun worshippers need to lug their own chairs to the beach or just spread out in the sand. And the only minimal shade is afforded by the giant washed up logs that line the shore.
The park board is gathering expressions of interest from vendors through April 15 and plans to run the pilot program for two years to assess overall viability, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun. If there’s sufficient demand, the chair-and-umbrella operation could be expanded to other city beaches, starting with Jericho Beach on the West Side.
But will chairs and umbrellas change the casual West Coast ambiance of English Bay? Currently, even on the busiest days, the beach has an open and expansive feel, with unobstructed views of the bay and the North Shore mountains. A maze of chairs and umbrellas could compromise those views and limit the amount of beach real estate available to everyone. Not to mention, there’s a certain democracy to English Bay beach at present – everyone, tourist or local, rich or poor, lies down on the same sand or leans back against the same logs.
On the other hand, with Vancouver summers getting hotter and hotter, shade is definitely a priority. Since umbrellas are generally too big to drag to the beach via car or public transit, rentals could offer beachgoers a way to beat the heat and avoid coming home from English Bay looking like a lobster. In addition, old black-and-white photos of English Bay from the early 1900s suggest that chair rentals were once a thriving business.
There’s no word yet on when chair and umbrella rentals may kick off or the prices to be charged.