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. (File Photo)

Years of ‘horrific, violent accidents’ at popular Vancouver Island swimming hole prompt plea

View Royal fire chief asks for an end to alcohol consumption at busy Thetis Lake park

It’s a request View Royal Fire Rescue has made before and say they are likely to make again.

Emergency crews are asking the public to take safety seriously and stop drinking at Thetis Lake Regional Park after responding to two alcohol-related medical incidents at the busy lake on Sunday alone.

“Every year we have these horrific, violent accidents on the lake and the behaviours don’t change,” said View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst. “Nobody goes to the lake expecting to fall from the cliffs and break their legs or break their back or have a skull fracture. It’s always someone else.”

Hurst said the department responded to two incidents involving impairment on Sunday – one was an impaired and unconscious teen, the other an impaired adult who had jumped from the cliffs and injured himself.

Historically, View Royal Fire Rescue’s calls to the Capital Regional District (CRD) for lifeguards and enforcement have not been fulfilled.

READ ALSO: Crews respond to non-fatal drowning at Thetis Lake

READ ALSO: Police drop Thetis Lake cliff push case

But with the growth of surrounding communities – Langford, Highlands, View Royal and Saanich – the park sees about 500,000 visitors a year and is now an “urban park,” according to Hurst.

In an email, the CRD told Black Press Media that it increases patrols in regional parks and trails over the summer and that the majority of visitors to its parks are “respectful of others and the natural areas.”

And although alcohol consumption – along with smoking and fires – is illegal in Thetis, enforcement is difficult in the 834-hectare park, which has multiple entry points.

“You can’t set up a check point at every access point in the park,” Hurst said. “So people are going to do what people are going to do. We’re just asking people to have some personal accountability.

“Every single year it’s the same story from View Royal Fire,” he added. “The bulk of our work at Thetis Lake Park has an alcohol component to it. Whether it’s a fall from a cliff or it’s some sort of medical issue.”

Accidents happen when people are at parks or lakes, Hurst said. But accidents resulting from impairment are avoidable and require a lot of emergency response efforts, especially during summer months.

READ ALSO: Warning issued as swimmer dies, boater missing this week in B.C. waters

READ ALSO: Dramatic rescue renews pleas to bring lifeguards back to Long Beach

“It takes lots of resources to deal with these issues. Police, fire and ambulance get busy in the park dealing with alcohol and drug-related issues which, if not for the fact that people are impaired, then the emergency services are available for other calls.” 

According to Hurst, another issue for emergency crews is access. He said the high volume of people and the lack of parking makes responding difficult.

“There’s not enough parking there,” he said. “All the streets leading to Thetis are clogged with vehicles. We have trouble getting our emergency vehicles in because people were illegally parked on all the roads and all the side roads.”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Vancouver Islanders converting front yards to food production

Front yard redevelopment transforming urban dwellers from consumers, to producers

Surfrider Pacific Rim hopes unique wetsuit recycling program stays local to the Coast

“We really want to see someone locally or regionally take this on and use this material locally.”

WATCH: Clean-up complete at abandoned Vancouver Island ski hill

Volunteers rid Forbidden Plateau of debris left over from defunct alpine operation

Fence, patrols clean up Duncan neighbourhood, long term solutions scarce

Number of homeless people camping in Lewis Street area has dropped significantly after recent sweep

Closure adds to Parksville Qualicum Beach doctor crisis

One of Canada’s oldest populations having trouble attracting medical expertise

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

New survey finds 4.7 million women over 15 were victims of sexual assault in Canada

Some 1.2 million men (eight per cent) report having been sexually assaulted since age 15

CCPA actors fall down a Shakespearian rabbit hole

Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) makes for chaotic theatre fun

TESS VAN STRAATEN: Find Christmas cheer in the heart of Victoria

From the iconic Fairmont Empress to decorated Old Town, seasonal activities abound in the harbour

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Concern grows as deadline looms for major downtown Nanaimo hotel development

PEG Developments say they’re pushing to break ground before Dec. 31 deadline

Most Read