Park board staff debating if logs should return to Vancouver beaches

The large logs that have lined the water’s edge at many Vancouver beaches have been a favourite lounging spot for sun worshipers for over 50 years.

When the majority of the logs were removed early in the pandemic to encourage physical distancing, the city found the additional space wasn’t the only benefit.

“There was less garbage, less debris,” said Amit Gandha, director of parks for the Vancouver Park Board, who added dangerous items like needles or broken glass would sometimes get tucked under the logs.

They also made it more difficult for larger beach-cleaning machines to sweep the sand.

“If you can imagine, we have a loader, a big machine that has to move every log, and a screener needs to run through there to clean and sift the sand and every log needs to be put back,” said Gandha.

The logs were also at risk of washing farther up onto the shore during king tides.

“Part of having less logs on our beaches reduces the risk of us self-inducing damage to our infrastructure,” said Gandha.

Those benefits have park board staff debating how many logs should be put back. They were first placed on Vancouver beaches in the 1960s by world-renowned landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander, who died last year at the age of 99.

For Vancouverite Jasmine White, the logs were a favourite spot.

“I quite liked them. It’s nice for a beach day, you can go and sit on them and it’s close by the water. Also, it’s iconic Vancouver,” said White, who would like to see all the logs replaced.

Park board commissioner and mayoral candidate John Coupar agrees, arguing: “Some of the iconic things in Vancouver, we need to protect.”

Coupar says he’s heard from people with disabilities who use the logs for support to get up and down from the beach. As for the argument they make maintenance difficult?

“We have been keeping the beaches clean for a long time, and the logs are in straight line, it’s not that difficult of an obstacle course,” said Coupar.

He suggests moving them farther from the water to prevent damage from king tides.

Gandha says all of those arguments will be considered when deciding how many logs will be put back.

“We are still going to have logs on the beaches, we just need to figure out what that number looks like,” said Gandha. “I don’t see it ending up like it was pre-pandemic, but I see a balance between what it looks like now and that point in time.”