Nude swimming group making waves – again – at Surrey pool

Concern is being raised about children participating in the SkinnyDippers swims at Newton Wave Pool

The Surrey Skinnydippers’ once-a-month Saturday night nude swim – for members only and open to children who are accompanied by their parents – is once again making waves in the community.

“As a child advocate, I want to make you aware that these children may be victims of voyeurism at the least,” a person identifying as Rachel, at littlelam67@yahoo.com, wrote to the Now-Leader. “As a taxpayer, please be aware this is a grave concern for many taxpaying citizens that subsidize your facilities for PUBLIC use. Please reconsider.”

The nude-only swims are held at Newton Wave Pool, at 13730 72 Ave., from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month. Adults are $12 ($10 online) and children under 18, admitted only when accompanied by their parent or legal guardian, get in free. According to the club, membership is mandatory.

Surrey resident Zachary Johnson told the Now-Leader he learned about the nude swims on Twitter.

“I thought that’s weird. I clicked on the link and it showed there’s going to be kids there as well. I thought well this is pretty inappropriate,” he said. “I wouldn’t really have a problem with it if there weren’t underage people involved. If it was only for adults, then it wouldn’t really be an issue.”

Paul Andreassen, organizer the Skindippers’ swims, said children have “always been there, and they are safe as they are at any other event where their parents are present.” He said parents “absolutely” have to be with the children.

“It’s a closed event, it’s a private event. The windows are covered.”

Andreassen said that “usually around 40” people come to the nude swims but “not at lot” of kids go.

He said the club began its swims in June 2002 until January 2003, “which is when Surrey decided to pull the plug, under McCallum and the then council. So we did appeal to council; they were not moved, so we moved our swim to Vancouver for a period of time while we organized and decided how to turn things around. Ultimately we wound up taking it to the B.C. Supreme Court.”

Justice Paul Williamson presided over the case, Skinnydipper Services Inc. v. City of Surrey and Laurie Cavan, heard in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver in 2007.

“For those who came of age in the 1960s, skinnydipping would hardly seem to be a threat to the moral fibre of western civilization,” Williamson wrote in his reasons for judgment. “Not so, however, for some of the good burghers of Surrey.”

Williamson had noted that the city cancelled the group’s rental permits soon after many in the community expressed their outrage to city employees of the day, threatening to boycott the pool.

“Not long after, on March 31, 2003, the Federation of Canadian Naturists, the group who had been renting the pool for late night private skinnydipping, received a letter from the City of Surrey stating that the Surrey Council had considered the matter at a closed council meeting, in itself rather odd in a democracy, and had affirmed the action of the staff in cancelling the pool rental agreement.”

The judge decided that “the decisions to cancel the nudist group’s permits and to decline to rent pool facilities to the petitioner are patently unreasonable.”

Andreassen says the club requires membership to attend the swims. “We screen everyone, we take photo ID, we keep records on everyone that attends our event.”

None are anonymous, he said.

The city staff who do the life-guarding are not working in the buff, Andreassen noted.

“They are the same that lifeguard the public swims. Think about it, they are there for our safety and they have to be identifiable – they can’t just blend in to the crowd. Same thing at a public swim, they are wearing their official issued T-shirts and carrying their whistles and all that sort of thing. They are representing the City and everything is kept under control.”

Laurie Cavan, Surrey’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture, told the Now-Leader via email that the event is a “private function” and that the pool is rented to the organization after regular public swimming hours are finished for the day.

“The City of Surrey is complying with the court ruling that found it reasonable for civic pool facilities to be rented out privately for this purpose,” Cavan’s statement read.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“Isolation is normal for us,” says Saanich dad with cystic fibrosis

Gordon Head man says now’s the time to approve life-saving cystic fibrosis drug

Victoria business still busy as people turn to books while in self-isolation

Russell Books says certain genres have gained popularity during COVID-19

Farmers’ markets still open in Greater Victoria

The Moss Street and Esquimalt Farmers’ markets are scheduled to take place, with slight variations

Sooke School District promises learning opportunites for students by mid-April

‘No intent to replicate regular school day virtually’ SD62 says

VIDEO: Musician stays physically distant in courtyard show for Langford retirees

Bob Nelson found a way to continue to play for retirement community residents

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

COVID-19: Qualicum Beach youngster gets car parade for his sixth birthday

Friends get creative after party cancelled due to ongoing pandemic

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

Nanaimo RCMP ask for help locating 17-year-old girl believed to be with 36-year-old man

Mary Cyprich, missing since Thurday, might be in company of Force Forsythe

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Most Read