Why is the District reviewing Briarwood beach access?

    As directed by Council motion in 2021, the District of North Saanich is undertaking a comprehensive review of the Briarwood beach access, located at the north end of the Ardmore neighbourhood. This review will focus on opportunities for improved safety, accessibility, emergency access, servicing, recreation, and environmental stewardship. Local residents have communicated concerns about safety and emergency access due to parked cars. The District is committed to providing safety in balance with community access to the waterfront for all ages and abilities.

    Why aren’t posted parking restrictions enough for Briarwood beach access?

    The current parking restrictions were put in place to help manage conflicts while a more comprehensive process was explored. Parking violations still occur. This project will explore additional measures for long-term improvement.

    What about reviewing and improving other beach accesses instead of Briarwood?

    The District is planning a Parks Master Plan process in 2023/2024 to provide guidance on parks, trails, beach access, and more. It is anticipated that through this process, the overall system of District beach accesses will be reviewed.

    Why is Briarwood so popular compared to other District beach accesses?

    This location is popular due to:

    • Accessibility – the beach provides a shorter trail to the water and has a relatively moderate slope that doesn’t require use of stairs compared to other nearby beaches. Therefore, the beach is more accessible for families, strollers, or those with mobility challenges. 
    • Beach character – the beach here is predominantly small pebbles and sand and has a gradual entry that is suitable for a wide range of ages and swimming abilities.
    • Boat launching – the gradual beach entry and shorter trail access are favourable for launching small non-motorized boats (e.g., paddle board, kayak, row boat).

    Why are you engaging the community? How can I be involved?

    Community input is integral to this process to understand community use of Briarwood beach access, as well as concerns, ideas for improvement, and priorities.

    Please complete the community survey to share your input about this project.

    Stay tuned for draft recommendations and next steps.

    What is public and what is private on the waterfront?

    The foreshore tidal zone of all beaches in the District of North Saanich (and British Columbia) are public even if they are located directly in front of or adjacent to private property. According to the BC Land Act, private property is defined up to the ‘present natural boundary’ (or PNB) which is commonly defined as the visible high-water mark. There are certain riparian rights that are extended to waterfront property owners (e.g., right to protect property from erosion, right to access property from the water). The foreshore area is public (provincial common law) and areas below the ocean foreshore (e.g., underwater) are also public; however, these areas fall under federal law. Local governments, such as the District of North Saanich, have authority to plan and regulate land use within their boundaries, which may extend over foreshore and nearshore areas.