Editor's column: Private property, public walks

It’s the kind of story that will go crazy on social media — and it has.

Richmond teacher allegedly sprayed with garden hose by Delta police chief’s wife.”

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How do you not read that?

And then there are the juicy details like the “wife,” Lorraine Dubord, allegedly calling the teacher “fat” and the teacher, Kiran Sidhu calling Dubord “a Karen.”

Now let’s throw in the fact that Dubord, standing in front of her multimillion dollar home, is white and Sidhu is not and alleged comments like, “you don’t belong here,” and we have just a whole lot of angles from which to view this story.

In her Facebook post where Sidhu went public with the incident last week, the Richmond teacher talks about not feeling welcome in “white spaces.”

Certainly the fact that the race angle was a factor was not lost on those who, last weekend, held an anti-racism demonstration at Centennial Beach where the alleged altercation occurred.

Another concerning element of this story is that, according to Sidhu, she made a complaint to the Delta police and three days later she was told the file was closed.

It was only after going to the complaints board, that Sidhu said she got some action.

At that point, the case was handed over to the Surrey RCMP. It’s also being investigated by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

Who knows what will come of it all. Presumably, issues of racism, assault and police possibly sweeping something under the rug to protect one of their own will all be looked at.

The thing that probably won’t be a part of this investigation is that of private property and shorelines.

This whole situation happened because, as Sidhu tells it, she had been walking along the beach when the tide came up quickly — as it does there.

In a bid to get back to her car she had to skirt the water’s edge which meant climbing on some rocks in front of what appears to be Dubord’s beach front home.

Given that private property ends at the high tide mark, it’s hard to know if Sidhu was even on private property, but even if she was, I would argue that’s a problem in itself.

I understand people want their privacy. I also understand that people pay dearly for their beachfront locations, but if the beach is public when the tide is out, even just a little bit, I don’t see why there can’t be just a foot or two beyond so people don’t get into the kind of situation Sidhu found herself.

I lived at Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast for a year, at a beachfront property. And, sure, people would cling close to the fence when they had to because the tide was high. But I was fine with that because I knew the next day I might be out there walking the beach when the tide came up and I would have to tuck in close to a property line to get by.

I remember feeling particularly disgusted by a property owner a few doors down who planted thick blackberry bushes on the water side of their property line, making it impossible to pass. The fact their mansion was set back at the end of an enormous lawn just made me wonder how it is that some people feel they can just never have enough.

The question whether or not Sidhu was on private property may come up in the investigation, depending on what rocks she was on etc. — not that that justifies being hosed down.

But I’d love to have a larger conversation about the radical notion of slicing off just a sliver of that private privilege to allow the public a walk on the beach.

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