Photograph by: Michelle Siu , THE CANADIAN PRESS
VANCOUVER -- Standup paddleboarding is becoming one of the most popular water sports in North America and now Vancouverites will have another option as the city moves to add a third rental service at Kits Beach.
The Vancouver park board has awarded a contract for a paddleboard concession service to Vancouver Water Adventures, a Vancouver-based company that already operates a paddleboard, water bike, and Jet Ski rental shop on Granville Island.
The board will vote on Feb. 25 on whether to approve a three-year-operating agreement with the company.
There are only two paddleboard services operating at English Bay and Jericho Beach, and according to the board, Kitsilano Beach is the ideal location for anther operation because it is second most visited beach after English Bay.
The company will pay the park board a $5,250 minimum annual base fee, or seven per cent of annual gross revenues up to $100,000 and 8.5 per cent of annual gross revenues above $100,000.
Vancouver Water Adventures is owned by siblings Jessica Watson and Clayton Watson. They did not respond to a request for an interview.
At the Jericho Sailing Centre, where staff offer paddleboard lessons and rentals, general manager Mike Cotter said the number of people trying the sport has doubled each year for the last six years since it was introduced in Vancouver.
Asked whether congestion will be an issue this summer, Cottar said there could be crowding as participants are leaving the shore, but as soon as they get out in the water there shouldn’t be a problem.
“I think we have an incredible ocean playground here with plenty of space for everyone,” he said.
However, Cottar said he was concerned about safety issues with the paddleboard concession stands. At the centre, he said, staff provide basic training on right of way, and warn participants how not to remain in shipping lanes. They also ensure people who rent paddleboards wear a leash attached to the board and a life-jacket.
“I’ve seen so many people out in the water without a life-jacket and a safety leash,” he said.
Transport Canada considers the paddleboard a vessel and therefore, unlike surfing, people are required to wear a life vest.
At Jericho Beach, swimmers are not allowed in the area that is reserved for paddleboarders and other small vessels.