Advertisement

Salmon Arm not planning to add lifeguards to Canoe Beach after drowning

Click to play video 'Lifesaving Society calls for more lifeguards at B.C. beaches' Lifesaving Society calls for more lifeguards at B.C. beaches
WATCH: As Okanagan residents flock to beaches to try and beat the heat, they are mostly swimming at their own risk. Only one waterfront in the valley is lifeguard supervised.

In the wake of a drowning at Canoe Beach last week, the mayor of Salmon Arm says the city has no plans to add lifeguards to the area.

Mayor Alan Harrison said the city has never had lifeguards at public beaches, and no changes are planned on that front.

He said Canoe Beach is “incredibly safe” and the length of the beach would require multiple lifeguards, which would be costly.

Read more: Family remembers Edmonton man who drowned in Shuswap Lake

Harrison added that having a drowning occur at Canoe Beach is unusual, and he can’t recall another drowning occurring there.

Although it has no plans to add lifeguards, the city is reviewing beach safety in the wake of the death, the mayor said.

Story continues below advertisement

“It is such a tragic incident and we’ve been thinking about the family,” Harrison said.

Click to play video 'Edmonton man drowns in Shuswap Lake' Edmonton man drowns in Shuswap Lake
Edmonton man drowns in Shuswap Lake

On July 23, 22-year-old Nathan Falito disappeared while swimming out to a dock at Canoe Beach.

The Edmonton man’s body was recovered from the lake by an RCMP underway recovery team the next day.

Falito’s family wants to see more done to prevent similar drownings at public swimming areas in B.C.

“People should be able to go to those beaches and feel safe and realize if something were to happen … that there would be people in those places, set in place to help rather than having to wait on first responders,” said Falito’s sister, Sarah.

No lifeguard at the majority of B.C. beaches

Only 21 B.C. waterfronts are typically staffed with lifeguards, according to the Lifesaving Society’s B.C. and Yukon branch.

Story continues below advertisement

Just two of those are in the Southern Interior, one in Kamloops and another in Peachland.

Read more: ‘Outgoing, dynamic and bright’ football player identified as Shuswap Lake drowning victim

The executive director of the B.C. and Yukon branch, Dale Miller, estimates that leaves hundreds of waterfronts and beaches without lifeguards around the province.

Miller would like to see more of the province’s busiest waterfronts supervised.

Read more: Recent drownings in Okanagan stark reminders of water safety

According to the Lifesaving Society, less than 1 per cent of the drownings in B.C. between 2012 and 2016 happened when a lifeguard was present.

This year, the number B.C. waterfronts with lifeguards is down to 17, as some areas dropped the service temporarily due to the pandemic.