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.
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.
“It is such a tragic incident and we’ve been thinking about the family,” Harrison said.
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.
Just two of those are in the Southern Interior, one in Kamloops and another in Peachland.
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.
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.