View Royal Fire Rescue has been concerned about alcohol consumption and safety issues at Thetis Lake Regional Park for decades, says View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst. (Black Press Media file photo)

View Royal mulling options to curb cliff jumping at Thetis Lake Park

Staff propose bylaw to charge for cliff jumping rescues, but mayor unconvinced

  • Jun. 1, 2021 12:00 a.m.

View Royal staff have proposed a bylaw that could make cliff jumping illegal at the popular Thetis Lake Regional Park, where every year many emergency rescue operations occur, mostly for drunk revellers who didn’t make the jump.

The draft bylaw proposes charging people for rescue service if they were engaged in illegal or reckless behaviour.

Cliff jumping is a dangerous activity, especially in this location where the ledge is 30 to 40 metres above the water, and jumpers have to clear both the sloped cliff and shallow water at the lake’s edge.

“You’re rolling the dice every time you jump off. I’ve seen broken backs, broken necks, drownings … brain matter coming out of a person’s head. If that’s not enough of a deterrent then … there’s no advice I can give you,” View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst told the Gazette last year.

View Royal council had some concerns with the proposed bylaw when it was reviewed earlier in May, and sent it back to staff. Mayor David Screech worries that if you charge people for some kinds of help, that it could discourage people for calling for help in an emergency.

He also felt that making it illegal to jump from higher than one metre was over the top.

“I understand what staff is trying to do and how hard it is to deal with all the calls in the summer, but I’m not sure that bylaw is the way to go,” Screech said.

READ MORE: View Royal fire chief frustrated by Thetis Lake accidents

Lifeguards would be a better solution, he thought, noting that View Royal has asked for lifeguards for years, but it’s a Capital Regional District decision, which has so far been a no.

View Royal Fire Rescue advised staff the minimum cost to the town for their emergency response is around $2,000 per hour. Currently View Royal foots the bill, and after decades of trying everything from public education to asking for fences, they’ve had enough.

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Goldstream News Gazette