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North Van brings back fine for Deep Cove wharf jumpers

Bylaw won't be enforced unless there's trouble, mayor says
A group of teens leap from the wharf in Deep Cove in July 2015. Soon, dock divers could face a $150 fine. | Cindy Goodman, North Shore News files

A fine for doing cannonballs off Deep Cove’s Gallant Wharf is back on the books in the District of North Vancouver.

Park rangers and bylaw officers will soon be empowered to hand out a $150 fine for dock divers, following a vote by district council May 31. The change was included in an omnibus of bylaw updates related to a new agreement with the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority that gives the district jurisdiction to ban people from living on boats moored in Deep Cove.

It is a reversal of course for the district, which previously considered and rejected a fine for pier plungers.

When council adopted a suite of new parks regulations in 2018, it included a $200 fine for jumping from the wharf. That prompted back-splash from the public (and from individual council members) who bemoaned the district becoming a “no fun” municipality. In response, council amended the bylaw in a way to keep jumping from the wharf as an infraction – but stripped out the fine.

Since then, jetty jumpers could face a $100 fine for disobeying the district’s No Jumping sign on the dock, but according to staff, the sign was frequently vandalized.

Mayor Mike Little, a big believer in a long walk off a short dock when it’s hot out, said district staff won’t be seeking out berth bellyfloppers unless there is a problem.

“Jumping off the dock is a rite of passage for kids,” he said in an interview. “We have not changed how we enforce it, which is, we haven't given any tickets out since that [bylaw] came in, in 2018.”

But Little said bylaw officers do need a tool at their disposal to deal with harbour hoppers doing something obviously unsafe.

“Our view still is we have no problem with someone jumping off the dock. It’s if they block a boat from mooring, if they do something unsafe like jumping between boats,” he said. “Then we have the bylaw on the books. We can go and tell them they have to leave.”

Even when there isn’t a boat nearby, jumping from the dock can be risky though, Little cautioned. When the tide is particularly low, the depth of the water off the wharf is less than six feet.

“I think people expect that it's going to be deep as well, but it's not,” he said. “You might be surprised.”

The bylaw and the agreement with the port require a final vote by council before coming into effect.