Maybe today was not the best day for those that wanted to experience Centennial Beach, luckily I made my trip a couple of days ago while I waited to come back to Victoria on the ferry. I hadn’t visited Centennial Beach since I was a teenager growing up in Tsawwassen and I was amazed at how much had changed. Even more, I was inspired by some of the amazing elements that have been added and think that they could be used as inspiration for a couple of our local Victoria beach parks.
Centennial Beach is part of Boundary Bay Regional Park. There is actually surprisingly little online about the origins of the park though I am aware that settler history would have likely started in the late 1800’s with some of the significant farming land, some of which still exists today. The Tsawwassen First Nations would have had significant history in the area for many millennia. Oddly enough it would appear that the Centennial in the name is in commemoration of the 1958 centennial of the Colony of British Columbia not the 1967 national centennial.
For me my history with the park started in the early 1980’s as a child. My earliest memories of the beach are the endless sandbars and the weird jelly fish balls that are all over the beach (actually apparently a worm egg sack). In those days you accessed the beach park by driving down to Boundary Bay the community and cutting through, now road access is at the west end of the park which bypasses the houses. It appears that there is a bus stop being constructed outside the park entrance so there should be some limited bus access, but I would imagine it would be near impossible to use much like most transit options in Tsawwassen. You can also access the park along the dike to the north by walking or bicycle and this is definitely the nicest way to get there.
When you enter through the main car entrance you will see a large old house. This is Cammidge House, which was moved here a number of years ago from nearby and restored. It apparently hosts lots of parties and weddings. When you get to the beach this is where you will see a lot of really neat new additions (I am sure they are not new, just new to me).
There are a couple of beautiful group picnic shelters. What I really like about them apart from their cool design, is the fact that they have food preparation and BBQ space and even have special waste cans for charcoal briquettes. Nearby is a very large new playground for kids.
Perhaps the most visually stunning addition is the new washroom and change room building. It is a beautiful modernist structure with a cafe at the end closest to the beach. The space inside is airy and not your typical public washroom. Having a food service amenity at the end seems so obvious but it was a surprise when I saw it. Something like this at Clover Point or as a replacement for the Kiwanis building at Willows Beach would be amazing. At Clover Point it would add a great new food amenity to an area that needs it and also create a new revenue opportunity for the city. For Willows beach with its very gross washrooms, it could really create an opportunity to make something a little more pleasant.
Finally, the one new thing that I thought was most exciting may be the easiest thing to install. From near the cafe, which is surrounded by concrete sidewalk, stretching out onto the beach is a blue accessibility mat. This allows those in a wheelchair access beyond the parking lot and right onto the sand. It seemed be made of a sturdy plastic and was bolted down in several spots to what I would guess would be concrete bars. While it wasn’t being used when I was there, the idea behind it I thought was great. Something that most of us take for granted, walking on the beach is likely impossible with most wheel mobility devices. I could see something like this being popular again at Willows or possibly Island View Beach.
This was only a short visit, I could see that there are extensive trails around the park that I hope to explore more on my next visit!
Have you visited Centennial Beach? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.