Summer is here and that means some of Greater Victoria’s popular beaches, parks and trails will soon be flooded with locals and tourists looking for some fun in the sun.
To accommodate the influx of visitors, the Capital Regional District increases patrols in regional parks to ensure they’re safe and enjoyable for users.
“The summer is our busiest time,” said Jeff Leahy, senior manager with CRD Parks.
Parks and trails in the area receive an estimated 7.6 million visits per year, according to Leahy.
“It’s exciting to see we’re getting that much use but with that kind of use there’s going to be some challenges,” Leahy said. “Everybody needs to follow park bylaws and be respectful of others.”
Patrolling regional parks and trails is a joint effort between the CRD and other institutions like municipal police forces and municipal bylaw officers. He said they focus on some of the more popular areas like Beaver Lake, Island View Beach, Sooke Potholes, Thetis Lake and Matheson Lake.
Leahy said bylaw officers also view patrolling parks and trails as an opportunity to educate visitors about rules like staying to the right of trails or giving horses the right of way. Other rules that people can be reminded of include no campfires, no smoking and no consuming alcohol in parks.
While Leahy acknowledged some people engage in dangerous activities such as cliff jumping, he said he could not comment on why more permanent patrols, such as lifeguards, aren’t in place.
In June, View Royal Fire Rescue, BC Ambulance and West Shore RCMP responded to a non-fatal drowning at Thetis Lake.
The Lifesaving Society of B.C. and the Yukon said the majority of drownings — 37 per cent — occur in lakes, but almost all that are seen in B.C. are preventable.
Leahy did note that people should be knowledgeable about their own swimming abilities and be careful to avoid dangerous situations.
“People have been injured jumping off cliffs and it’s a hazardous activity,” Leahy said.
He also suggested swimmers have a buddy with them and that park visitors pay attention to posted signs.
“Keep an eye on your children and be aware of your surroundings,” Leahy said.